a self-loving black woman

when a black woman says

i love you

what she means is

i have placed you in the palm of my prayers

the stone of your birth sits on my altar

i have room for you in my full heart

i’ll let you touch what the world breaks

we can make life precious again

i asked beyond myself for your breath

before i knew your name


ages ago, grandmothers ago

there was a spell cast on a last gasp

that one day i would be held

with the same strength she’d been tossed aside

from the moment my body left

the blessed cave of my mother

i have found a way to shimmy

in the faces of those who said be still

cursed me with stories of love i would never attain

pristine slender rich love


i stepped off that path as soon as i could,

and again, and again

at the risk of a lonely life i have waited in the clearing

until i loved the sound of my own morning song

i searched the stars

until i found a constellation that looked like my kiss, eternal

i lifted my hands, i prayed in a lineage of change

make me love as vast as the dark

love as precise as a sky map

love as precocious as felt freedom


obsessed with my softest self, i nourish my warrior root

to destroy monsters, i sing protection spells into flowers

when a black woman says she loves you

she is not saying only you, but definitely you

– my people, and you

– my freedom, and you

my singular love of self and god is overflowing

so i’m laying down some magic in your name

a conjure uttered now, which will bless your name