Editor’s note: This poem is part of our #SpreadTheWord poem of the week series, featuring work by Chicago artists based on Injustice Watch reporting. This poem was inspired by the latest installment of our Essential Work series, Listen: Youth organizers discuss Black joy, West Side history and the future, featuring two West Side youth organizers and friends – Destiny Harris and Kaleb Autman – in converstaion. For more poetry in this series, click here.
You feel so light.
You felt heavy.
Like a baby’s laugh.
Like a laugh, when I’m nervous.
You’re weightless, tossable.
You were heavy, unmovable.
You feel like when I used to go on field trips and my mom actually bought me a lunch and the next day everybody watched me eat my lunchable with a bit of envy, but only a little so their small plea to enjoy it with me could be louder.
You felt like when I had a field trip and my mom forgot to sign the trip slip, and I didn’t have a lunch, and I had to eat that dry sandwich the school gave. And at lunch I’d watch everyone eat wondering if they’d… “remember that time when you asked me for some of my lunchable?”
You feel like the first time I landed in Ghana. Like I’m returning home even though I’ve only just come here for the first time.
You felt like when I had to leave Ghana. Like being uprooted from a place giving me all the love and calm I needed.
You feel like in every moment we are infinite.
You felt like a Black hole, still infinite. But in a sucking eternally way.
You feel like Chuck E. Cheese when I ran back to the table and I said can I get some more tokens and I’d receive five more.
You felt like Chuck E. Cheese, when I ran back to the table and the coins ran out. And my mom yelled at me to hide the pain of knowing she’d used money she’d saved to show us the best time, yet I’m still unsatisfied. And she doesn’t want the fun to end either but yelling is easier.
You feel like when they finally brought the pizza out and I came back to the table just in time.
You felt like when they brought the pizza out but I was away from the table playing and now it’s cold and only two left.
And I’ve loved you both. So what does that make me?
My imagination is infinite, I’ve spent an unimaginable amount of time envisioning my life, my freedom, and how that intertwines with the freedom of those around me. As Toni Morrison said, “remember that your real job is if you are free, you need to free somebody else” and in all things I do–healing, teaching, camping, traveling, acquiring knowledge, writing, self exploration– it is to pass along the liberation found in these acts, and to recognize when others are reaching out to free me. My work, centering around the Black American reality, hopes to consistently weave in and speak to the Black African experience globally.
A lot of my work is dialectic. I am constantly discussing with myself (and others) the distinction of who I am versus who I’ve had to be. I feel I have a responsibility to myself that connects to my communal responsibilities, to investigate, to give and receive love, to whom, how often, and which ways are most natural to me; and what ways have I been forced to give and receive love, to whom, how often. My work aims to leave those interacting with the material asking themselves the same questions, and the inspiration to do the work.