I woke today with the same attitude I always have
one fist cured and another open.
I call this the Black girl stance.
Later on, I drive to Divinely Auditorium
because I am giving a speech there on inequality
because I am Black and understand inequality.
At the podium, I open and close my fists.
I had a dream, I begin,
and all the white people in the audience
stand and clap.
I speak slow, soft
like positioning marbles
beneath my tongue
gripping between two lives—
white and black.
Will they call me articulate or loud?
Am I passionate or angry?
Two shifting veils, two faces: double consciousness,
Du Bois called it.
I push on with my speech.
I had a dream
and in my dream,
I see my mother.
She, a Black woman,
is honeycomb sweet,
so tangled in broken lineage.
Our family is purpled-ivied, she says. Our family carries pain.
My body is your body is all bodies derived from me.
In this dream, we are at a grocery store, looking at fruit.
She is holding a banana—small and ripening,
pew, she points it at me and laughs.
If you know this story already
change it for me
before it’s too late
before she becomes a threat
before the inevitable happens.
I shake her. I say mom, grab a peach
an orange, a pear,
anything less gun-like
than a speckling banana.
Better to grab nothing at all,
walk with your hands up instead
I curse I slap the fruit away I scream
She is killed anyway.
In this speech, I only wanted to explain
how Black dreams can come in terrors unbidden
how my face, like everyone else, is just one-half of my mother’s,
my temperament the same
and see, how I am not so different?
The audience does a polite clap.
Some nod like saying yes or maybe saying no.
When I finally leave the auditorium
the humid air warms across my face
I sweat the same
salt liquid like any other
it draws in all the mosquitos
hungry for my blood.