The Lion And The Cat

The lion, prideful but without a pride, roamed in search of a cave to hide. Hunters were coming to lay him down, hunters were coming with crazy sound. They smashed the branches and snapped twigs; rolled over homes under the plain, and knocked nature about. The lion was lucky in his cool brown and padded claws. He slipped through the trees undetected, hatred reflected in his eyes for all his murdered and kidnapped felines. Into himself he retreated, sprawling out on the dirt, alone, he felt good for a moment. It had been so long that there in the cave, he thought he had dreamed it.

When a perky little cat, Roberta, Bob for short, came trotting by. She heard the loud sigh of an angry lion inside. “Go away small one why have you come,” he roared “can’t you see that with all of you I am done!” She perked up her whiskers and sat lightly on her tail staring up into the jaws of hell. “Out I said, or I’ll surely kill you dead.”

Un-phased, she laid in the shade of a tree trunk across the way and went to sleep. There she stayed. Every day. Listening to the lion storm, bringing warm mice for him to nibble on, leading the monkeys away whenever they tried to bother, singing sweet meows whenever he started to holler.

Until finally one day long after, he cried to the cat “Why? Surely you know the real world is not this kind.”

“We are the same,” she said.

“I am a lion,”  he growled.

“You are a cat albeit a very big one. I am black and spotted, you are tan. You are alone and in pain. I remember once when I was in needing, someone came with love, feeding me bits of kindness. We may not look it, but we are the same. And if we don’t take care of each other who will,…” she began to trail off, and slowly got up to walk away “…the hunter?”

Into the brush she went without a word more.

The lion, so used to her love and affection, followed behind; and thought, in time, I will learn how to be the same.

Cancer

I sit on the steps of God’s house, contemplating the depression eating away at me like the stage 4 cancer failing both of my kidneys. Family’s hugs and weary eyes remind me of my enclosing demise. Can they see me?

I hide melting into the blackness. Alone, understanding and accepting what the future holds. Their stress hurts to watch; though, a confession lightens the soul it burdens the listener. They could not bear to know that their loving gaze makes me feel sicker. I’m beginning  to hunger for an escape into the clouds. My sweet chariot to swing low and ascend. Feel the warm kiss of death while she entangles my body and we drift into that ever lasting sleep.

I breathe deep and hold it in as if I’m drowning. Trying to feel the breathlessness of my lungs collapsing when I am no longer moving. I suppose on a grand scale death’s always pending . So it’s not fear that fuels this sense of certainty but knowing that they will miss me. Sitting here. Visualizing my daughter’s pain as her teardrops stain the hollowed shell of my remains. What comfort could my spirit gain knowing that I’m the reason she cries rain every night?

He pushed his hand into night’s pocket, seizing his food of desperation and munched it, the nutrients nestling in the thicket of his bowels; imagining death as his distant lover. He shunned all those who searched for him and moved further into the corner, cold floor, and hard wall his brothers whispering in his ear. Will you go now, right now, gently into her beckoning arms?

His answer may have been yes had it not been for the bucketful of gold rising in the sky, spilling yellow rays onto his cheeks that danced into his eyes. He could see his selfish ways. The courage to live kicked up in his throat as if singing from a serpent’s tongue. It whipped and split the remaining dark. Movitated him to seek out his seekers. Hang onto their hugs. Dry those weary eyes since a minute of their happiness was worth more than a moment of his despair.

With the sun warm on my face I sink deeper into their embrace. I don’t tell them about my relationship with death. She will come knocking on my door, waiting for me to satisfy her; but today, I will not answer. 

Plaster, Wood, Bricks

Plaster, wood, and bricks.

If I could speak. The things I’d say.

I’d let it all hang out in ways that she’d hate.

My body, poked and prodded with posters and pictures. I see her in a scarlet depression, smoldering. Curled into herself as she constantly slams my doors and cuts the lights. Thank God the eggshell paint absorbs some of the tension. I swear the heavy, sickening thickness in her bated breaths makes me tremble. Is it pain there behind her eyes as she sleeps, tossing in between bed squeaks? It can’t be just that.

This morning she rose gravely, perpendicular to the mattress like a fresh zombie from a grave. Something happened out of the ordinary. Before the un-swaddling of the covers, mussing of the flattened curls, smacking of sleep intoxicated lips and eye lids. There was a smile there amid the sunken sadness. A smile. Then she looked up. Before the morning music or shower, she looked up, past me, as if to thank someone. Brief and silently lingering was that look. Then the balls of her feet gripped the linoleum and she was off.

Sometimes I want to beg her to stay here in the dimness with the five of us. It’s safe, safer than where she disappears to anyways. Her scent is all over the place, and we’ve known so many over the years, but I think we like her. Another smile, and then another, in the mornings, sometimes in the day, and even in the night. Something’s changed. It must have.

Look.

Rarely any shallow sobbing into the silken pillow. Surreptitiously, we surrender our services to her. Soak in her off-collar looks, call in the breeze at night, and gently whisper in her ear as she drifts from the conscious world into the next.

Knuckles and Knees: Part 1

My uncle, who is not really related to me, says that I shouldn’t have black knees. That no man wants a woman with black knees. I am confused by this, as I sit on the stoop listening to him laugh in his throat with another uncle of mine whom I am sure is not related to me. They seem to agree. One is a drug dealer. Overdue for his next bid and real estate man and property investor and owner of his own construction company. The other is notorious for his drinking binges and odd sightings around the neighborhood with packages of baby wipes that aren’t brand name. I say, but I am a black girl and I already have black knees. They continue to chuckle at me.

images (3)I am lost.

But I have black knees don’t I, I am black. You are brown. Women with black knees have scars from rubbing their knees on the ground. No one will want you if they look like that. He points to the other non-uncle’s skin, dark as charcoal. I am not charcoal, but I am brown. When did I become brown? Besides there’s other kinds of scars I’m talking about that you’re too young to know about. I am nine. You shouldn’t anyways, he says, and then swigs whatever it is he’s drinking. I played football a lot with the boys on the block, that’s why my knees are darker, and they know it already. I’m not talking about boys, he says, I mean men. Men like them?

When you get older men don’t want to deal with that kind of baggage. You all scarred and scuffed up from other dudes or games or whatever, and now he has to deal with your blackness. Wear stockings from now on or something, just trust me. By this point in the conversation Daddy has descended the stairs, and upon seeing the confusion in my little face, asks what we were talking about. Non-uncle number one, the lighter one, tells him. Daddy curses him out and punches him into the street. I wonder deeply. Why can’t women be dark and wanted, why can’t men deal with her scars? Daddy comes back to tell me that my uncle is not really my uncle at all and that he’s a sexist, nasty fool that I should never take advice from. My Daddy is a correctional officer at Rikers Island prison, he was an all-star running back in high school and a college drop out, he has made many mistakes but loves my mom and he loves me.

157d903a50054f232787527c5cd57da3He says that my legs are fine the way they are.

And if not, then find a man in life who likes scars, brownness, and the edges of blackness.