Friday, January 09, 2009

The L-Word

" And when the sun rises, we are afraid that it might not remain. When the sun sets we are afraid it might not rise again in the morning..." A Litany for Survival

I brushed up against this poem by Audre Lorde in my first Women's Studies class at Barnard. Although I couldn't fully grasp its intricacies--it moved me violently. When I read it, I wept. I felt Lorde's words so deeply, almost as if I had written them myself. The lines, I later tacked onto my dorm room wall and copied in my writing journal. And to every lover, I would recite the words from memory in private moments—imagery falling from my lips like sweet nothings—bringing our collective imaginations to orgasm.

But when I learned that Lorde was lesbian I put the poem away. Lorde was lesbian and that I knew her poem far too intimately could only mean one thing—that I too was gay. I refused to claim identification with her work any longer, for to do so was to fall from the trope of black woman suffering –to do so was to be undeniably and inescapably other.

Years later, on the road to de-marginalization, I picked up Lorde and loved her once again. This time, completely understanding the intricacies of her work and embracing the fullness of her calling.

Her litany was for me. The little girl she spoke of... “ at the shoreline standing at the constant edges of decision, crucial and alone...” The little girl... “imprinted with fear like a faint line in the center of our foreheads...” The woman loving “in doorways coming and going in the hours between dawns, looking inward and outward at once before and after...”

But. Not. Any. Longer.
And for that, I can never go back.

I marvel at the journey. With tears in my eyes, I thank Lorde for her life and her pen. I speak loudly, remembering that I was never meant to survive.

Monday, January 05, 2009

A New Year

When I turned 18, I tattooed truth on my ankle. It was a feeble attempt, I guess, to stave off darkness. A symbol etched into my flesh with blood and ink--a guidepost for salvation. I believed in truth so sincerely. I tucked it underneath my mattress-- folded it away in my sock drawer, even pinned it to the inside my bra when I walked the streets.

But one fateful day, I awoke to find truth gone. It vanished into the maddening mid-Manhattan morning. I cried and pleaded for truth to come back to me. I searched behind doorways, in alleyways, and beds until finally, one day, I forgot what I was searching for.

The forgetting was the blessing. If you've found truth then you are probably dead. I lived to tell.

I never knew that life could be so sensual. Everyday I experience me...and you...and you. I live in murky thoughts, unbound by artificial boundaries. It is pain and pleasure, pouring down all over me.

The path to truth is not on my ankle anymore, but on the soft spot of my inner thigh, the left blade of my breast bone, my finger tips marking this page.