I Looked Up
                                                  For Dr. Michelle Meekins

             Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to "jump at de sun."
             We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.  Zora Neale Hurston

 

          I looked up saw light in a room
          with no windows. Me, a buster brown
          scruff of a muffin girl, always trying
          to catch beams falling and shooting star gleam:
          any glow to hold me, while I was pinched
          between Opossum Kingdom and Piedmont.
          Standing before me
          I saw a ray not squeezed or hemmed
          in by small minds and attitudes.
          Mrs. Meekins’ cropped fro
          burning bout her head like a righteous ring, 
          an ebony halo spiraling a 70’s meaning, right on right on.
          I cut my own locks in solidarity
          to her boldness.
          Caught Carolina Hell from boys
          and old school black women  saying the length
          of a woman’s hair accounts for her beauty.
          My compass had been set internally
          to her square shoulder aspect.
          I circled my days at Woodmont
          and drew from her strength. Followed
          her lead and how she waded
          through the halls unmarred.  I figured
          I carved myself like a tip of her arrow
          that pierced hate with a posture
          that did not think about knowing her place,
          a fine point I learned to polish
          never bent, bowed or broken.  I figured
          I fly with her swift trajectory
          – quivering undaunted. 

          Yeah, I looked up –
          to keep from being held down.
          Caught hope where I could find it: 
          15 minutes 5 times a week in homeroom.
          I felt the strength of her boldface
          teaching me to fly beyond
          places that never made room.
          I kept aiming
          shooting for a spot in this world
          until I perched on poetry, 
          where I finally landed
          and made myself a home. 

 

 

                                                                                     Glenis Redmond