1934 - 1992/Female/American A writer, feminist, womanist, and civil rights activist, Audrey Geraldine Lorde is best known for technical mastery, emotional expression, and expressing anger and outrage at civil and social injustices. [wikipedia]
Out of my flesh that hungers and my mouth that knows comes the shape I am seeking for reason. The curve of your waiting body fits my waiting hand your ******* warm as sunlight your lips quick as young birds between your thighs the sweet sharp taste of limes.
Thus I hold you frank in my heart's eye in my skin's knowing as my fingers conceive your flesh I feel your stomach moving against me.
Before the moon wanes again we shall come together.
And I would be the moon spoken over your beckoning flesh breaking against reservations beaching thought my hands at your high tide over and under inside you and the passing of hungers attended, forgotten.
Darkly risen the moon speaks my eyes judging your roundness delightful.
The black unicorn is greedy. The black unicorn is impatient. 'The black unicorn was mistaken for a shadow or symbol and taken through a cold country where mist painted mockeries of my fury. It is not on her lap where the horn rests but deep in her moonpit growing. The black unicorn is restless the black unicorn is unrelenting the black unicorn is not free.
Moon marked and touched by sun my magic is unwritten but when the sea turns back it will leave my shape behind. I seek no favor untouched by blood unrelenting as the curse of love permanent as my errors or my pride I do not mix love with pity nor hate with scorn and if you would know me where the restless oceans pound.
I do not dwell within my birth nor my divinities who am ageless and half-grown and still seeking my sisters witches in Dahomey wear me inside their coiled cloths as our mother did mourning.
I have been woman for a long time beware my smile I am treacherous with old magic and the noon's new fury with all your wide futures promised I am woman and not white.
I am fourteen and my skin has betrayed me the boy I cannot live without still ***** his thumb in secret how come my knees are always so ashy what if I die before morning and momma's in the bedroom with the door closed.
I have to learn how to dance in time for the next party my room is too small for me suppose I die before graduation they will sing sad melodies but finally tell the truth about me There is nothing I want to do and too much that has to be done and momma's in the bedroom with the door closed.
Nobody even stops to think about my side of it I should have been on Math Team my marks were better than his why do I have to be the one I have nothing to wear tomorrow will I live long enough to grow up and momma's in the bedroom with the door closed.
I Is the total black, being spoken From the earth's inside. There are many kinds of open. How a diamond comes into a knot of flame How a sound comes into a word, coloured By who pays what for speaking.
Some words are open Like a diamond on glass windows Singing out within the crash of passing sun Then there are words like stapled wagers In a perforated book-buy and sign and tear apart- And come whatever wills all chances The stub remains An ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge. Some words live in my throat Breeding like adders. Others know sun Seeking like gypsies over my tongue To explode through my lips Like young sparrows bursting from shell. Some words Bedevil me.
Love is a word another kind of open- As a diamond comes into a knot of flame I am black because I come from the earth's inside Take my word for jewel in your open light.
Coming together it is easier to work after our bodies meet paper and pen neither care nor profit whether we write or not but as your body moves under my hands charged and waiting we cut the leash you create me against your thighs hilly with images moving through our word countries my body writes into your flesh the poem you make of me.
Touching you I catch midnight as moon fires set in my throat I love you flesh into blossom I made you and take you made into me.
I have studied the tight curls on the back of your neck moving away from me beyond anger or failure your face in the evening schools of longing through mornings of wish and ripen we were always saying goodbye in the blood in the bone over coffee before dashing for elevators going in opposite directions without goodbyes.
Do not remember me as a bridge nor a roof as the maker of legends nor as a trap door to that world where black and white clericals hang on the edge of beauty in five oclock elevators twitching their shoulders to avoid other flesh and now there is someone to speak for them moving away from me into tomorrows morning of wish and ripen your goodbye is a promise of lightning in the last angels hand unwelcome and warning the sands have run out against us we were rewarded by journeys into desire into mornings alone where excuse and endurance mingle conceiving decision. Do not remember me as disaster nor as the keeper of secrets I am a fellow rider in the cattle cars watching you move slowly out of my bed saying we cannot waste time only ourselves.
An upright abutment in the mouth of the Willis Avenue bridge a beige Honda leaps the divider like a steel gazelle inescapable sleek leather boots on the pavement rat-a-tat-tat best intentions going down for the third time stuck in the particular
You cannot make love to concrete if you care about being non-essential wrong or worn thin if you fear ever becoming diamonds or lard you cannot make love to concrete if you cannot pretend concrete needs your loving
To make love to concrete you need an indelible feather white dresses before you are ten a confirmation lace veil milk-large bones and air raid drills in your nightmares no stars till you go to the country and one summer when you are twelve Con Edison pulls the plug on the street-corner moons Walpurgisnacht and there are sudden new lights in the sky stone chips that forget you need to become a light rope a hammer a repeatable bridge garden-fresh broccoli two dozen dropped eggs and a hint of you caught up between my fingers the lesson of a wooden beam propped up on barrels across a mined terrain
between forgiving too easily and never giving at all.
Time collapses between the lips of strangers my days collapse into a hollow tube soon implodes against now like an iron wall my eyes are blocked with rubble a smear of perspectives blurring each horizon in the breathless precision of silence one word is made.
Once the renegade flesh was gone fall air lay against my face sharp and blue as a needle but the rain fell through October and death lay a condemnation within my blood.
The smell of your neck in August a fine gold wire bejeweling war all the rest lies illusive as a farmhouse on the other side of a valley vanishing in the afternoon.
Day three day four day ten the seventh step a veiled door leading to my golden anniversary flameproofed free-paper shredded in the teeth of a pillaging dog never to dream of spiders and when they turned the hoses upon me a burst of light.
My mother had two faces and a frying *** where she cooked up her daughters into girls before she fixed our dinner. My mother had two faces and a broken *** where she hid out a perfect daughter who was not me I am the sun and moon and forever hungry for her eyes.
I bear two women upon my back one dark and rich and hidden in the ivory hungers of the other mother pale as a witch yet steady and familiar brings me bread and terror in my sleep her ******* are huge exciting anchors in the midnight storm.
All this has been before in my mother's bed time has no sense I have no brothers and my sisters are cruel.
Mother I need mother I need mother I need your blackness now as the august earth needs rain. I am
the sun and moon and forever hungry the sharpened edge where day and night shall meet and not be one.
The edge of our bed was a wide grid where your fifteen-year-old daughter was hanging gut-sprung on police wheels a cablegram nailed to the wood next to a map of the Western Reserve I could not return with you to bury the body reconstruct your nightly cardboards against the seeping Transvaal cold I could not plant the other limpet mine against a wall at the railroad station nor carry either of your souls back from the river so I bought you a ticket to Durban on my American Express and we lay together in the first light of a new season.
Now clearing roughage from my autumn garden cow sorrel overgrown rocket gone to seed I reach for the taste of today the New York Times finally mentions your country a half-page story of the first white south african killed in the "unrest" Not of Black children massacred at Sebokeng six-year-olds imprisoned for threatening the state not of Thabo Sibeko, first grader, in his own blood on his grandmother's parlor floor Joyce, nine, trying to crawl to him ******* through her navel not of a three-week-old infant, nameless lost under the burned beds of Tembisa my hand comes down like a brown vise over the marigolds reckless through despair we were two Black women touching our flame and we left our dead behind us I hovered you rose the last ritual of healing "It is spring," you whispered "I sold the ticket for guns and sulfa I leave for home tomorrow" and wherever I touch you I lick cold from my fingers taste rage like salt from the lips of a woman who has killed too often to forget and carries each death in her eyes your mouth a parting orchid "Someday you will come to my country and we will fight side by side?"
Keys jingle in the door ajar threatening whatever is coming belongs here I reach for your sweetness but silence explodes like a pregnant belly into my face a ***** of nevers.
Mmanthatisi turns away from the cloth her daughters-in-law are dyeing the baby drools milk from her breast she hands him half-asleep to his sister dresses again for war knowing the men will follow. In the intricate Maseru twilights quick sad vital she maps the next day's battle dreams of Durban sometimes visions the deep wry song of beach pebbles running after the sea.
New Year's Day 1:16 AM and my body is weary beyond time to withdraw and rest ample room allowed me in everyone's head but community calls right over the threshold drums beating through the walls children playing their truck dramas under the collapsible coatrack in the narrow hallway outside my room
The TV lounge next door is wide open it is midnight in Idaho and the throb easy subtle spin of the electric slide boogie step-stepping around the corner of the parlor past the sweet clink of dining room glasses and the edged aroma of slightly overdone dutch-apple pie all laced together with the rich dark laughter of Gloria and her higher-octave sisters
I. My face resembles your face less and less each day. When I was young no one mistook whose child I was. Features build coloring alone among my creamy fine-***** sisters marked me Byron's daughter.
No sun set when you died, but a door opened onto my mother. After you left she grieved her crumpled world aloft an iron fist sweated with business symbols a printed blotter dwell in the house of Lord's your hollow voice changing down a hospital corridor yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.
II. I rummage through the deaths you lived swaying on a bridge of question. At seven in Barbados dropped into your unknown father's life your courage vault from his tailor's table back to the sea. Did the Grenada treeferns sing your 15th summer as you jumped ship to seek your mother finding her too late surrounded with new sons?
Who did you bury to become the enforcer of the law the handsome legend before whose raised arm even trees wept a man of deep and wordless passion who wanted sons and got five girls? You left the first two scratching in a treefern's shade the youngest is a renegade poet searching for your answer in my blood.
My mother's Grenville tales spin through early summer evenings. But you refused to speak of home of stepping proud Black and penniless into this land where only white men ruled by money. How you labored in the docks of the Hotel Astor your bright wife a chambermaid upstairs welded love and survival to ambition as the land of promise withered crashed the hotel closed and you peddle dawn-bought apples from a push-cart on Broadway.
Does an image of return wealthy and triumphant warm your chilblained fingers as you count coins in the Manhattan snow or is it only Linda who dreams of home?
When my mother's first-born cries for milk in the brutal city winter do the faces of your other daughters dim like the image of the treeferned yard where a dark girl first cooked for you and her ash heap still smells of curry?
III. Did the secret of my sisters steal your tongue like I stole money from your midnight pockets stubborn and quaking as you threaten to shoot me if I am the one? The ***** lightbulbs in our kitchen ceiling glint off your service revolver as you load whispering.
Did two little dark girls in Grenada dart like flying fish between your averted eyes and my pajamaless body our last adolescent summer? Eavesdropped orations to your shaving mirror our most intense conversations were you practicing how to tell me of my twin sisters abandoned as you had been abandoned by another Black woman seeking her fortune Grenada Barbados Panama Grenada. New York City.
IV. You bought old books at auctions for my unlanguaged world gave me your idols Marcus Garvey Citizen Kane and morsels from your dinner plate when I was seven. I owe you my Dahomeyan jaw the free high school for gifted girls no one else thought I should attend and the darkness that we share. Our deepest bonds remain the mirror and the gun.
V. An elderly Black judge known for his way with women visits this island where I live shakes my hand, smiling. "I knew your father," he says "quite a man!" Smiles again. I flinch at his raised eyebrow. A long-gone woman's voice lashes out at me in parting "You will never be satisfied until you have the whole world in your bed!"
Now I am older than you were when you died overwork and silence exploding your brain. You are gradually receding from my face. Who were you outside the 23rd Psalm? Knowing so little how did I become so much like you?
Your hunger for rectitude blossoms into rage the hot tears of mourning never shed for you before your twisted measurements the agony of denial the power of unshared secrets.
There are so many roots to the tree of anger that sometimes the branches shatter before they bear.
Sitting in Nedicks the women rally before they march discussing the problematic girls they hire to make them free. An almost white counterman passes a waiting brother to serve them first and the ladies neither notice nor reject the slighter pleasures of their slavery. But I who am bound by my mirror as well as my bed see causes in colour as well as ***
and sit here wondering which me will survive all these liberations.
However the image enters its force remains within my eyes rockstrewn caves where dragonfish evolve wild for life, relentless and acquisitive learning to survive where there is no food my eyes are always hungry and remembering however the image enters its force remains. A white woman stands bereft and empty a black boy hacked into a murderous lesson recalled in me forever like a lurch of earth on the edge of sleep etched into my visions food for dragonfish that learn to live upon whatever they must eat fused images beneath my pain.
The Pearl River floods through the streets of Jackson A Mississippi summer televised. Trapped houses kneel like sinners in the rain a white woman climbs from her roof to a passing boat her fingers tarry for a moment on the chimney tearless and no longer young, she holds a tattered baby's blanket in her arms. In a flickering afterimage of the nightmare rain a microphone ****** up against her flat bewildered words "we jest come from the bank yestiddy borrowing money to pay the income tax now everything's gone. I never knew it could be so hard." Despair weighs down her voice like Pearl River mud caked around the edges her pale eyes scanning the camera for help or explanation unanswered she shifts her search across the watered street, dry-eyed "hard, but not this hard." Two tow-headed children hurl themselves against her hanging upon her coat like mirrors until a man with ham-like hands pulls her aside snarling "She ain't got nothing more to say!" and that lie hangs in his mouth like a shred of rotting meat.
I inherited Jackson, Mississippi. For my majority it gave me Emmett Till his 15 years puffed out like bruises on plump boy-cheeks his only Mississippi summer whistling a 21 gun salute to Dixie as a white girl passed him in the street and he was baptized my son forever in the midnight waters of the Pearl.
His broken body is the afterimage of my 21st year when I walked through a northern summer my eyes averted from each corner's photographies newspapers protest posters magazines Police Story, Confidential, True the avid insistence of detail pretending insight or information the length of **** across the dead boy's ***** his grieving mother's lamentation the severed lips, how many burns his gouged out eyes sewed shut upon the screaming covers louder than life all over the veiled warning, the secret relish of a black child's mutilated body fingered by street-corner eyes bruise upon livid bruise and wherever I looked that summer I learned to be at home with children's blood with savored violence with pictures of black broken flesh used, crumpled, and discarded lying amid the sidewalk refuse like a ***** woman's face.
A black boy from Chicago whistled on the streets of Jackson, Mississippi testing what he'd been taught was a manly thing to do his teachers ripped his eyes out his *** his tongue and flung him to the Pearl weighted with stone in th e name of white womanhood they took their aroused honor back to Jackson and celebrated in a ******* the double ritual of white manhood confirmed.
"If earth and air and water do not judge them who are we to refuse a crust of bread?"
Emmett Till rides the crest of the Pearl, whistling 24 years his ghost lay like the shade of a ***** woman and a white girl has grown older in costly honor (what did she pay to never know its price?) now the Pearl River speaks its muddy judgment and I can withhold my pity and my bread.
"Hard, but not this hard." Her face is flat with resignation and despair with ancient and familiar sorrows a woman surveying her crumpled future as the white girl besmirched by Emmett's whistle never allowed her own tongue without power or conclusion unvoiced she stands adrift in the ruins of her honor and a man with an executioner's face pulls her away.
Within my eyes the flickering afterimages of a nightmare rain a woman wrings her hands beneath the weight of agonies remembered I wade through summer ghosts betrayed by vision hers and my own becoming dragonfish to survive the horrors we are living with tortured lungs adapting to breathe blood.
A woman measures her life's damage my eyes are caves, chunks of etched rock tied to the ghost of a black boy whistling crying and frightened her tow-headed children cluster like little mirrors of despair their father's hands upon them and soundlessly a woman begins to weep.