Saturday, May 11, 2013

for our grand grandparents

who taught you to be poised in the face of challenge?
i watch you smile
and cry half tears
down a face with cheekbones
sturdy from turning them over to your enemies

i would have cried had they put me out
clung on for dear life
in the face of insurmountable odds
i dont leave neat
dramatic tends to be my specialty

and who taught you grandfather
how to love with you life
set an example
with your movement

the last time i saw you you were little
not the big man i remember
i hear stories about you leaving south carolina
during the great migration
and think would i have had the courage to choose?

leave or stay
stay or go
sometimes its easier to not pick
a destination
to wander
and be free
but you didn't have the luxury of dreams

your hard work
paved the way for me
to be a little more leisurely

and this is for our grandparents
the ones who did back breaking
work so i could pick up pencils

the ones who aren't heroes
lived quiet lives
in unfamiliar cities
these are for the ones
the jim crow south spit out
or swallowed

i cant imagine not becoming invisible
yet you worked
for me
for us
and so this is for the elders
that loved us
and gave us spankings and peppermint candies
dollars and stories
fried chicken and sweet tea

this is for the heroes
on whose strong
shoulders we stand
and whose shadows we will never
be fit to walk in

this is for the ones who really raised us
and whose memories keep raising us
we rise for you
for whoever taught you
has taught us