For Sonia Sanchez on her 80th Birthday!
– jessica Care moore
we are all
spinning while standing still
all at once. us.
birthed from the cosmic afro
futuristic tornado wombs of street corner
theater & Paul Robeson baritone
deep guttural alabama d-n-a
tested for being the temperature of the
on the 9th day of September
Sonia Sanchez turned 80
& that is very hot.
you have rescued so many of us
under a soprano sky – us –
blue black magical women. from
the bowels of mainstream beauty.
we sistas dreaming just to be loved
honestly. with the nose & breasts
and lips we were born with.
to be safe in the house of a friend
our internal wounds salted & licked
by exiled wolves who spirit kill women.
who read books.
who create sanctuary
in their own home. who find joy
in the discovery of their own bodies.
like the singing coming off drums
u allowed us our own image. as
necessary mirror. as template. as model. everything is
not a thin, collapsed american nightmare. you promise.
this is not a small voice. while holding our dreams
in your throat.
cocoons turn to butterflies when you speak
you told us there was something left behind
something priceless we could spit out and shine off
& share with our daughters.
something they cld never silence.
you have pulled us closer to our ancestors with grace
you made them more accessible. you literary goddess
in a den of language thieves.
a fortress of love. a ginger tea
a warm miso soup.
you break the sky open with
your sunsets of peace
pull haiku from your curls & carry them
as children. say them backward sometimes
just to see if the story ends the same way.
there is balance in all things.
shake loose our skin so the mask is
no longer necessary.
make it wearable art make it glow
you poems blow so we can hear how trane
wld have played it
your poems laugh
so that we can recognize malcolm’s smile
on the page.
you challenge us to be human
to become who we say we are as a people.
you are a giant among the dwarfed ears of
misogyny. our feminine genius. our sister.
sonia who is the color of Bahia
sonia who is the silver panther matriarch
of black art
sonia the pantheon of poetics
a structured sound of meter mixed
with machete. rapid fire brilliance
& soft warrior resistance kisses.
she loves us. and it makes us love
sonia gives us permission to live
aloud inside our magic. to not be
confined to definition and taught me
to own the space i was in while i was
bits of pieces of us all over the planet
become whole when we discover you.
one poet at at time.
the first time i found you, you saved my life
from the narrowed curriculum of my Detroit Public High School
you were there, sitting on a library book shelf.
with audre lorde and ntozake shange and lucille
clifton and alice walker and toni morrison & octavia butler.
confusion & displacement & cultural abandonment
was lifted from my 16 year old body
i had mothers and they spoke in beautiful tongues
quick wit & metaphors
i’ve been a woman and i know we are a Badddd people.
when we have fallen into our collective
depressions. when artist paranoia is
at full steam. when we just need to
watch a comedy to boost our immune
we open your books. we find your heart.
when our last lover has been swallowed
up by insecurity. when we don’t know
how we will make it through winter
we call on your hand grenades. we conjur
your sonku spells. your eyes closed
your hypnotic chant. your exalted whispers.
your self love walk around the stage stance
if she loves you, you already know you
need apple cider vinegar, raw almonds and coconut water
on the road. that you must find the food
that will hydrate your soul so u don’t run out
so we can continue to continue
in the spirit of langston and maya and baraka
we. resistance community.
women, educators, mothers,
together, at our seams. you hold us.
it seems surreal to share a conversation
with someone who took words and made it
global testimony. called on poets from around the world
to wrap a city. called Philly. in something called peace
in the form of haiku.
chalked on the sidewalk peace poster at the bus stop peace
mural against red brick peace internal peace
single mothers peace our brothas for peace
spinning while standing still.
with twelve hands, twin babies & fire water
your poems are our secret ammunition
when they mispronounce our names
for some women
who sell their baby girls for the high
those women who loved Malcolm
who understand that language is weapon
& tongues are sharpened swords.
in Jo’burg I watch you quiet a room in seconds
when the stool is not tall enough you walk away
from that podium.
and we see you. this petite lioness
commanding every breath in a space
reminding us we have to still fight to be taught
our own history, our own writers, in our own schools.
does your house have
does your house have
peace of mind
does your room spin
when sonia enters?
does everything seem clearer
once you have her in your reach?
sonia. we in brooklyn. we in detroit
we in oakland. we in philly. we in london
we in south africa.
we spin for you
we flower bed community
safe place for you
we will catch you
when u need us too.