A Black Girl Joy Poem: Rhythm

As published in Kweli Journal’s Black Girlhood Issue – My gratitude to Laura & crew for selecting it.

Sunup to sundown, a hundred shades of Black girl beauty. Caramel & pecan-colored, rays springing from our lips, mouths full as golden balloons, sweet as Jolly Ranchers. Sugar bubble gum breath, tongues grape purple, hair deep brown or bright pink or braided royal blue, slicked with shea butter & coconut oil, edges smooth & dry elbows oiled like our thirsty shins.

We stay ready – we don’t need to get ready.

We spring after winter, a breeze of competition. Eyes prying youth open to look inside at our becoming, hips spreading womanhood wide east & west.

Bass flying through rattling windows, energy lodged in earth thrumming, shoulders curved in, protecting our hearts & the fly chains at our necks from the chill as our bodies learn to be the sounds of the city.

Our souls sway to drums that never stop pulsing.

Our feet never stop moving.

If we can’t move, we don’t exist.

We are some bodies, so: we rock, we roll, we slay with Janet Jackson levels of control.

Spring, a short bridge to summer, means time to show these people we mean business.

We pound out hood morse code on cafeteria tables, rocking steady, swaying up against the wall with our loves, legs scissored, hair turning back from the humidity we make as we become songs.

We grown in every moment we steal, singing to our own soundtrack.

Tamika & Amecca & Ayana & Monique make another party with us, names like songs, like prayers rising from the Atlantic floor so we would always be music.

A drumbeat, a declaration, a love song.

A step, a cheer, a chant with our mouths, the beat vibrating from hands on flesh.

We make celebration between the long hours of what else is there? Passing notes or sending texts or watching the timelines & scrolling & scrolling. Sweat reminds us we are alive & we are here & we are planted.

The rest is here.



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