You used to tell me that beautiful things come from pain and adversity. Like motherhood, unconditional love, and true stories. As I stood in the middle of a room painted white, Staring at the remains of rolling hills burned to black, I saw you staring back at me.
Burnt fields like black panther fur Shining against your bones Velvet black You’ve changed And changed and changed Yet your love still remains Burnt fields like black panther fur Whiskers are the needles on a compass Always pointing to the azure sky You used to sing when I cried Rolling your r’s over rrolling hills A haunting melody startling black birds into the night Feathered constellations against a sliver moon And lips pressed to my salty cheeks
You told me that your favorite skin tone was chocolate, As you laid out in the sun hoping to melt. “A quarter black” is what you say when you want to feel proud, Even as you tell me stories of how your mother was called negrita, The girl who stood too dark amongst the crowd.
Burnt fields like black panther fur Black like the broken wings of mothers before you Who had hands with scars from cotton seeds And blue veins like uprooted trees Stretching all the way to their tired knees Burnt fields like black panther fur You criticize your aging beauty Speaking in envy of the color gold Like you are a broken bowl in need of kintsugi Yet silver snakes still slither Over the pebbled river beds of your black curls Dripping down the small of your back Until they reach the base of your ivory spine Burnt fields like black panther fur You criticize your aging beauty Because you never thought Cocoa lips and sun spots painted on sculpted clay that never cracks Could ever look as stunning as it does on you
You told me that it is better to speak my truth then tell pretty lies. So I told you mine and you cried, And cried and cried. But look where we are now, Standing beside each other with the same eyes, Just different reflections.
Burnt fields like black panther fur Tongue like a sword set ablaze Tempered in pools of milk and honey Blood red sun grazing the tops of your eyelids Still reminiscent of those in old photographs Where you saw the little girl you search for in me Burnt fields like black panther fur I am sorry I made you cry But even when our backs are turned We are still Black birds singing in the dead of night Free Thank you mama for my broken wings.
Inspired by a photograph of a burnt field that I saw in an art gallery. For my mom.