A Portrait of The Artist As a Young Black Girl (V)

V. DEAR FUTURE SPINSTER

At times she felt the chilling emptiness,

Of a life destined to live without another,

Though she was free, she often ached,

To have a string or two to hold her.

A something or someone to keep her tethered,

When she feared she’d float away.

In her dreams, sometimes,

The abyss would call to her, inviting,

And then, sometimes, it was too wide a circle,

And she yearned for something smaller.

She belonged to no one, not anymore.

She once wrote letters to her future lover,

Dreaming of blissful domesticity, in a suburban home,

In one of the little towns of her youth,

 Years and years ago.

Her whole life, a perpetuating circle,

A cycle of want and more want,

Of desire and fulfillment,

Her wedding ring, her smiling face, her belly round,

Her child’s eyes, her happy tears, her ticking clock,

From sunrise, to sunset, a perfect circle.

But it was not to be, reality would intervene,

Realness would pop the bubble of fancy,

A life of spinsterhood and art left instead,

That was to be her fate.

In some ways, she always knew,

That it would be just her,

So she loved herself more than anyone else,

And that would be her grand love affair.

Her only plan for the future,

Was to live a full and simple life,

To mark a place in the earth and name home,

To leave behind a trail of little truths,

Or maybe just change the world.

To tell them all her story,

About the Artist As a Young Black Girl.

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A Portrait of The Artist As a Young Black Girl (IV)

IV. AN INVISIBLE HISTORY

What’s in a name?

One’s history, perhaps.

A lost history,

A Hebrew name given to the black girl’s ancestor,

By some Englishmen who owned him,

And before that, nothing.

What’s in a name?

Her history, perhaps.

Two Hebrew names given to the young black girl

With a hyphen in between,

One from her mother’s family, one from her father’s.

And though she had two last names, she only wanted one.

At first, she pretended,

That the second name didn’t exist,

Just an invisible name from a forgotten past.

But soon that wasn’t enough.

So whenever she had the chance,

She forgot to add her second name,

So she was just Davis,

And after that, nothing.

What’s in a name?

Her story, perhaps.

An Irish name given to the young black girl,

Not because she was brave,

but because her mama liked the name.

She changed the ‘C’ to a ‘K’ then added an extra ‘y’

because she loved the letter so.

And though the name never fit quite right,

That was the name she kept, for now.

What’s in a name?

A herstory, perhaps.

A name given to herself at seventeen.

Because she didn’t have a home.

So Chaka Rose became her name,

And the name became her home.

Chaka seemed strong, and when said softly,

Sounded like the gentle whispers of a wind goddess.

And Rose reminded her of the earth, of beauty, and of love.

She became Chaka Rose, because no one else could be.

A name, an alter ego, for a young black girl.

Happy February!

tumblr_o1wdrqL5tN1tntr40o1_1280I’m wishing you all a Happy February. I’m planning to write a couple poems in honour of Black History Month and the rest of my poem “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Black Girl” should be posted in the next week.

May February be wonderful and magical!

A Portrait of The Artist As a Young Black Girl (III)

III. HER LITTLE TRUTHS

She loved the people she met in books,

She could pin them down and study them up close,

They became real to her in a way real people weren’t,

Who were often flimsy and intangible,

Like loose papers in the wind.

The people in books never changed,

Even when reality did.

God was an exception,

Because the more she read,

The more mysterious he became.

So he stopped listening

And decided there was no God,

Yet, there were times when she could not deny

The presence of some higher power.

So she’d bow her head and say “Amen,”

And that was she knew God.

The only things she believed in were her dreams.

She wanted to be everything,

A writer, a poet, a dancer, a Spice girl,

A mermaid, a singer, a queen.

And because each was more impossible than the last,

She dreamed about them instead.

When she woke, she would write

About every adventure she had.

Her dreams became stories,

And poems, and possibilities.

A something from inside of her

That when said out loud, became truth.

If words had power,

And fiction held truth.

Than a writer held the power of truth,

And that is why she loved to write.

So, maybe, her biggest dream,

Was to share her truths with everyone,

So they would read each word,

And know her more, and love her too.

A Portrait of The Artist As a Young Black Girl (II)

II. WHERE SHE WAS FROM

She lived in many places,

And made friends where’er she went.

They often touched her kinky hair and asked,

“So where are you from?”

And though Markham was the answer,

Because that was where she was born,

Her schoolmates shook their heads and asked again.

“Where are you really from?”

She thought maybe England was the answer,

Because her mother was born there,

But no, that too was wrong.

She did not know where she was from.

She asked her mama that night,

Who said she had Antiguan roots,

Grenadian too (on her father’s side),

And African roots from her ancestors,

And when she was older,

She could have a British passport,

So then she might be English as well.

She told her friends the next day,

About all the places she was from,

They shook their heads and told her no

Because she was too many things.

So she chose to be Canadian

Before she was anything else.

But when she was home,

Where it was warm and free,

She allowed herself to be more than one thing,

Because there was no one around to judge.

It made her wonder sometimes,

If maybe her friends were right.

How could she be from all these places,

And be each one authentically?

Or at least, possibly,

pass convincingly,

To avoid that same old question,

“Where are you from?”

A Portrait of The Artist As a Young Black Girl (I)

I. ONCE UPON A TIME

She was a lamb before she was a child.

Her sounds not words but bleats,

baa,

baa,

baa.

Her mother laughed,

A rich and vibrant sound,

And before she had a name,

Her mama called her Lamb Chop.

She was tiny, soft and pale and pure,

With long, delicate fingers

That held her mama’s finger tightly.

But like a dalmatian, newly born,

Her spots of black were missing.

“Is she yours?”

The eyes of strangers were wide with shock.

She was too tiny, too light,

To belong to such a brown mama.

Time passed and suspicion rose,

And then, after three weeks it was decided,

She was different.

As if the baby lamb understood,

What this would mean for her,

Or perhaps a higher power intervened,

But in the weeks that followed,

Her pigment arrived,

An unambiguous shade of melted chocolate,

And she became a little black girl.

A Portrait of The Artist As a Young Black Girl

THANK YOU

I’m writing this not only to introduce the longest poem I’ve ever written but also to express my love and admiration for the different artists and people that have inspired me to write it.

This poem started out as a school project but quickly became an opportunity for personal exploration and expression. So I thank my professor for challenging and encouraging me to write this.

I would also like to name the various authors and books that led to this creation through their constant inspiration and truth.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

Invisible Man by Ralph Waldo Ellison

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Plum Bun by Jessie R. Fauset

I divided this poem in sections and perhaps later I will publish it as one full post. But for now, please enjoy the little truths of my life I’ve composed in poem.

Happy Reading!