I am homesick for the man that I call home. I am lovesick for a King that the Queen in me knows.
I have loved the man you are meant to be, the man that I have known since they pillaged our land and abducted our children. Do you remember our people, even though they separated us with oceans, with languages and flags, with armies, with time? Can you remember our Kingdom, even when you see strangers on your throne? I grow my hair to remind you of your crown. I have not forgotten.
I have been waiting generations for you to remember:
When I see you in the streets searching for pride, I remember a time when your hands provided life for entire villages.
When I see your fear camouflaged as resolve behind a gun, I remember how we stood behind you, your body our shield, when they first came to steal your respect.
When I see our children, broken bodies leaking life into the gutters, my eyes mirror yours all those lives ago, when they made you watch my violation. I feel the same helpless rage that I saw paralyse you then.
When I see your hands behind your back, your head against a wall, turned away from me, I remember the days they carried us away and how you hid your eyes from mine. They are still hidden behind your shame.
I am still here, waiting for you to see me.
They took my freedom, but they stole my King; they took your freedom, but they stole your soul. They stole your virility, they took your pride. You have been searching for yourself ever since. You emulate his potency in strip clubs and perceive his courage in bottles; our sons imitate his industry in cartels and his bravery in gangs.
They took our freedom, and I survive. They took my home, my kingdom, my people, my name. They used my body and they occupied my womb. I still stand. But they took my King.
They took my King and they stole his soul and I am empty until I find him, until he finds himself.
I have been looking for him in offices, on street corners, in my bed. I see glimpses of him when you whisper my name, when you look into my eyes and don’t turn away. I recognise him when you see my strength and don’t test its limits, when you are not repelled by the intensity of my love.
He echoes through your smile when you admire the curve of my curves and I feel his strength in the coarseness of your hair. I hear his battle cry in the hunch of your shoulders, and in the tilt of your chin his defiance still defines you. In your eyes, as in his, you tell me you need me now as you needed me then. You will never ask because he never asked, but I hear. I am here.
You have never needed to convince me to stand beside you.
I don’t need you to spit-shine your story to impress me. That is what they taught you, not who you are. Slavery taught you to rise before the sun, now you’re just avoiding the morning after.
White sheets and burning crosses taught you to run and never look back, even for me.
Warlords taught you to see enemies everywhere; now you see them in my eyes.
Poverty taught you to lie yourself out of trouble; our marriage is in trouble.
When they stole your Kingdom, when you saw them on your throne, you forgot you were a King. Did they steal your memories of me? Did you forget you had a Queen?
Black Man, I am Black Woman.
Your very presence captivates me, your existence sustains me.
I have known you.
I still see you.I see generations of lives lived in your eyes.
Your lips play like an instrument; you are the call and I am the response. Your scarred wrists are a Braille memoir my fingers read before language. The lines on your palms chronicle our resilience. Your body is a flawless sculpture carved by defiant pride.
Your feet are scarred by a journey we have travelled together.When they beat you, scars disfigured my soul. When they enslaved you, I chained myself to your ankles and to your destiny. When they lynched you, I hid your descendants within my ovaries. When they imprison you, my heart beats against the bars of my ribcage to get to you. When they deny you dignity, I am humiliated.
When they turn you against yourself, when they turn you against me, when they drug you and teach you violence, when they teach our children violence, when they keep you impoverished and imprisoned, you have never needed to convince me to walk beside you. You have never needed to ask me to stand with you. You will never look for me and not find me.
You are flesh of my flesh, seed and fruit of my womb. I know you. I have known you.
“How many times do I have to tell you even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too?
The world is beating you down; I’m around through every mood”
– “All Of Me”, John Legend
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