On the days in which my blackness be a burden
My body just a container, a casket.
Mahogany skin cultivated to hold dead things.
I offer my body up
And evaluate my existence
A voice that is my own and yet not
Reminds me of reason
"The sun has risen.
You are light so rise with it."
I greet the day and the sun that makes it so.
The sun that made my people possible.
The sun that made us sinful.
That made us beautiful.
My skin was given a name once.
Branded "black" and left for dead.
This name be synonymous with death sometimes.
I am an artifact of ancestors
A relic of a race reincarnated for revenge
To exist despite the efforts of those who wished to destroy you
Is some kind of divine
My existence was made holy by the blood that was shed for it.
I am what my ancestors prayed for.
My mother told me my name means gift of life
She says it was given to her by a God I’m not sure exists
A God I'm not sure was sincere
If a white God delivered it, it is blasphemy.
But if a black God delivered it, it is destiny
If God be a black woman
If she gave me this life,
Crafted me in her image
Stitched together from features of black folk
Living and dead
The neck of a lynched woman
My mothers nose
My grandmother’s tongue
It is my duty to rise with the Sun that birthed me
To take up as much space as this body has earned
On those days I can feel my ancestors still fighting through my veins.
When someone attempts to make welcome mat of this body, my blood runs hot
Not in shame but as if to say
Have some respect for the dead
Feel my heartbeat and call it rhythm.
Hands and drums when we had them.
Feet and earth when we didn't.
Call the lump in my throat just bodies clawing their way out of my stomach
Some days I wonder,
if those with colonizer blood and tombstones for teeth
know who walks amongst them.
The way my footsteps mimic those who came before me.
Know what I have seen.
They are not white with privilege
Or white with purity
But white with fear
White with death
Pale, ashen, bloodless
Maybe that is why they look at me like a ghost sometimes
As if to say
I want to tell them,
That when you are descended from death you can never decay
Only be rebirthed into something continuous.
I wake up, and stand in awe
of the way my existence becomes immortal.
With the way my body becomes a marionette for martyrs to live through
How I construct out of myself a bridge to connect the past and the future
I don't think it a coincidence that my mother writes like Maya Angelou
Or that my cousin's eyes speak of rivers
Or how there is more history tucked into the coils of my hair than any textbook
Because even after our graves have been desecrated,
The bones of the dead will be used as kindling for the fire.
For the fueling
For a better tomorrow
So today I will live
I will live
For this life is my inheritance.