Questions

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Questions by Aleah Bradshaw

questions i imagine my black child will ask me and the answers i hope i am brave enough to give them;

'momma, in my class they got a crayon called 'skin color', momma why my skin not skin color?'

Child,
cuz you too big for that
You too grand to fit round paper label wrapped around some wax
you, the product of every favorite color converging
you the origin, you the hand, the coloring book and the crayons you the whole damn box
you, the 64 pack with the built in sharpener child you too beautiful
you beautiful colored, you you colored !

'momma
they say i laugh too loud in class
tell me i got a savage smile
say i got weeds growing out my scalp
momma where my flowers at?'

Child,
your hair means strong.
means growing up towards the sunlight cause you deep root planted
don't you know man was never meant to tame such a wild thing, 'domestication' just the white word for stealing
where we come from there ain't no such thing as an inside dog, only white people let so much teeth round they babies
all they know is 'savage smile'
love to look at the dog call him best friend, look at the friend call him dog
call him nigger with the hard r cause it can still be said through clenched teeth
never say 'hope' never say 'tolerant' never say anything they gotta open they mouths wide enough to let the light in
hate dark but love bein in it, Child

'mom,
they say they can't see the bruises so well on dark skin, keeps telling me that means we're not really suffering, mom are we suffering?'

Child,
they can't see the bruises 'cause they blind
your skin means healing that's why you scab colored, you ain't no lump of coal to be burned
you light itself, you lit as fuck, you sun, that everything else orbits round
you, the goddamn universe and the universe bout to sit down, eat some of this Trinidad black cake sweetened with molasses just like you were Child,
universe bout to shit on everyone else's idea of it 'cause it can, Child
Don't let them call you Child, you so much more than that.
You heir to everything black is, was, and will be.

'mom,
that sounds real pretty in the poetic sense but
poems don't keep me warm at night
poems don't break my fall or stop bullets what i really need to know is how to love myself.
how do i love myself, mom?'

Child, truth is i cannot teach you that,
truth is i wish that i could,
truth is you gotta train your body to say the word 'black' and hear 'yes'
say 'black' and hear 'enough'
say 'black' and hear 'black' until it is no longer a word bitter to hold in your mouth
one day, you will learn that 'love' is the only word sweeter than 'black'
'love' is the only word no one is allergic to
'love' is the only word big enough to pull you close to its wild chest so you can hear it's black
heart
beating.

'mom what happens when the heart stops beating?
what happens when the hashtag has your last name?
what happens when all of your art can't save you?
what good is having the loudest bones in the cemetery?
what good is a poetic obituary?
what good is a corpse that
loved itself?'

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