I was thinking how people I hold as eternal keep dying – I don’t know I believe this till they pass – when the news came: you so constantly here are gone.
You were the first poet where I knew your name, your creviced smile, when I recited you. Phenomenal, phenomenal – you lived what it is to be a phenom, to claim it as radical truth amongst cowardice and conditioning.
You loved us word and flesh, edge and marrow, pleasure and secret, with your thunderous mouth and grandiose spirit and such elegance.
In the midst of battle you let us rest in poetry, in your arms, in your faith that Yes, we were precious.
You didn’t whisper, nor did you shout, but measured each word as an ode to our humanity. You were a movement, a poet, a black woman saying now is the time:
To be love
To be beauty
To be black
To be free
Where you have gone I cannot hear, what you have left I cannot measure. I thank you for living your beautiful truth all these short and transformational eighty six years.
(Written in tears in a bus through Kentucky)