Stumbling into a back alley, four-walled hideaway
I didn’t know existed, I caught myself hearing
a poem: it was Black in every corner, it was Muslim
at the back, deep ruddy in the dark places. in between.
She stood, the unfearing, unfailing woman, her 40-something-ness,
at a microphone. She told a story I thought we knew only
when tears come through lashes and books
molest history. She told a story I have heard 10,000
times and never heard at all — living by crawling through the streets,
by knocking-knocking-hammering on doors no one ever opens,
by wailing in the ivory sea and feeding herself with air.
Apologizing between the breaths: “I am still here.”
I caught myself hearing this poem today, and there she was:
Firing atop things, dancing through the pain, singing every sin.
Word and Woman the same, exceptionally, purely, saintly Black in a way I’ll never know,
pulsing with a heart beat in the dark places — pulsing,
writhing at the desperate. “I am that I am. I am here.”
We can learn from this Woman. This Word.
This mammoth, shining Human in the dark.
May it be so.