SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW?

I usually have at least one opinion about Black History Month, mostly based on my personal history and experience. I always made it a point to discuss this February phenomenon when I was a talk show host on RMG radio.

While going through some old papers, I discovered a poem I created from the thoughts I scribbled in a dark theater as I watched Tyler Perry’s movie adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s play, “for colored girls who have considered suicide /  when the rainbow is enuf.”

I remember the uproar that surrounded Ms. Shange’s work when it first came out. The movie, from my perspective, brought the same intensity to the movie screen. This poem was my attempt to capture my raw visceral response, the emotions raised as I watched the story line unfold.

This is one of my Black History moments.

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I do not know

what to expect

I walk into the theater

sit down

and

wait

for what?

I know of the play

and

Ms. Ntozake Shange

its playwright

I remember the turmoil

that swirled around her

around the work

of her hands

and heart

back then

my generation’s un-uttered angst

written in plain view in black and white

I do not know

what to expect

when I go in

and take my seat

when I leave

I wonder

what do I do with

or

make of

these emotions

put on blast?

the movie unwraps itself

and the stories

of the women

begin to wrap around each other

I hurriedly write

snatches of lines

thoughts that rush me

I write

in darkness

out of the darkness

illuminated only by revelation

this community called woman

must pay attention

to each other’s

heartbeat

“A deliberate coquette”

the line startles me

though it is strangely beautifully lyrical

a deliberate coquette

in street language

“I choose to be a whore!”

what pain can drive

a soul to self-inflicted despair

Promiscuity on Purpose

but

what am I do to

with that woman who has yet

to identify her

deliberate coquettish-ness

even

as she recoils at the thought

“another anonymous lay?”

“Raped by Invitation”

an oxymoron spoken

by a wounded soul who wraps

herself in a shroud

of

silent despair

rather than reveal her wounds

because

she laughed and smiled and sat down and dined and dared

to invite a stranger-friend

into her sanctuary

because she trusted the message

and

he violated

her

trust

My fellow theater voyeurs

laugh

in the wrong places

I think

mostly women

they laugh

at

inexplicable scenes

of

heartache

angst

betrayal

bitter tears

too often

greeted with

giggles

guffaws

titters

how many women laugh

nervously

in the dark

because of unspoken connections

to the object

of that laughter?

The desperate girl child

seeks the back alley abortion

desperate

the naive excitement

of a back seat sexual encounter

vanquished by desperation

unwanted life planted in her

that which her broken

and

possessed mother

declares

“that growing inside you is sin”

so many stories tangled together

even as we women believe

we walk a solitary path

but

if we would just look up

we would discover

we are surrounded

by sisters

whose stories

mirror our own

“how are we still alive?”

broken

scarred

forgotten

hiding our scars

lest someone ask

“how did that happen?”

separate lives

connect through pain

connections forged

in the conflagration of life

connections that link us

to the next heart

that beats in sync

to the inequity

called LIFE

it is the pain

that makes us one

in the healing.

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