Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rarely Make (Gratitude Poem #28)

Rarely Make

Well Deserved and Badly Behaved Poems For Linda Bryant

After Audre Lorde’s “Inheritance-His”


face my words
face my  sunglassed face
mouth covered by hands
black and white forever

speak and be heard
and be



it is a closet
with a couch
where piles of blue and purple books
wait for their day out front
or to be assigned by an emory professor

Sister Outsider sits inside

and I look for a first line
to live through


love is right
just choose it
and keep it
and carry it


a book is
a portable place
to live


you can grow flowers
and food
you can write before sunrise

you can walk soft as you want
gentle and generous on the world
quietly proud

but you will always stand loud in my heart.

Was I 14 or 15 years old when my friend Elizabeth Anderson took that picture of me, hiding in straightened hair, sunglasses and a laugh covered by my two large hands for the "Seen and Heard" youth poetry competition sponsored by Charis Books and More and the Atlanta Journal Constitution?  
It was such a big deal to me to have my words on a wall and in the newspaper.  And that was how I met you Linda.  That was how I learned about the High School Women's Writing Group at Charis.  That is what led to many after-school and weekend afternoons, writing and talking about writing, and talking about things that I might otherwise have been afraid to write about.    It was a space where I could be myself and explore how to describe myself in the transformation of growing.    It was a space you dedicated your life to creating and nurturing.   It was a space where you introduced me to other Black feminist geniuses like Pearl Cleage, Doria Roberts, Shay Youngblood, Fiona Zedde.

Which means now for 15 years you have been there, as an example, as an adviser, as a fairy godmother reminding me to stay grounded as everything changes.  Affirming my choices even as they defy convention.  Showing me by your life and reminding me in your words that it will all work out as long as I am present to magic, as long as live as true as I can and listen to my heart and when I can, write down what it is saying.

I learned over and over again that well-behaved women and well-behaved bookstores rarely make history.   Thank you for lovingly tending that rare bravery that makes everything possible!

I love you Linda!!!!

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