I’m a reflection of the community
Y’all don’t know what you do for me
It’s like your holding floor length mirrors up to my frame
Teaching me how to pen my name
Even though I write poetry with bruised inks and these kinks in my hair are matted
Enough of you patted me on my back when I said I wasn’t okay
And I thank you for that

I’m a reflection of the community as my feet run ragged
My feet run ragged, running circles around the politics of NGOs,
trying to create resources to showcase our love for one another
Cause I love you
It is my aim to showcase my love for you because I was you and I am you and you will always be me
And I hope you love me too

I’m a reflection of the community whose black aunties and grandmothers put on their uniforms and conformed to the burden of their pain,
To the burden of their oppression
My heart goes out to the moms and sisters who inherited that onus and were forced to rip their hearts from their sleeves and own this
Own this violence against us
and accepted being called crazy when they reached out for help

I am a reflection of you
and this community
My eyes pounded the same way your temples did when you awoke from that nightmare for the umpteenth time this month
But you still woke up
And I did too
Pain gnawed at your tender bruised knees from crawling on so many stages
I too had my gnawed knees buckle after too many dances
But I rose
And you did too
My feet ran fast when my mind flashed back to that customer who I could’ve sworn just walked past me in that crowded subway station or sat behind me on that congested bus
My feet ran and it was like telepathy – something telling you to run too, even though you’re not sure if it was him
I wasn’t too sure either
But you got away and I did too

He told me I was crazy
I thought I was crazy, I felt like like I was crazy
I am not crazy because I love you
I am not crazy for needing help sometimes
I never thought that I was worthy of freedom
I didn’t think I was capable of being free
I will not conform to being called crazy and neither should you
Yes I know, we’re loud and proud and no one can fuck with us but we’re all the product of those who fucked with us
Still we walk with our chins parallel to the floor and our shoulders held high, even though we ache with the loss of our youth

Men have caused us pain
Society has caused us shame and said we were to blame for the exploitation of our efforts to be loved unconditionally
The world has silenced our need for a sense of belonging and told its citizens that we were begging for attention
But, no more
The gods have spoken and awoken the survivor in me

I will wear my pain with humor, color, and words like an ugly christmas sweater and make them see my lights
I will publish society and put word to the shame that so many of us have carried for too long, blaming ourselves
I deserve to be loved unconditionally and write loudly, illustrating proudly that I need to be where I belong – in my community
where I reflect it and it reflects me in peace
The citizens will line up for me to scribble my name with bruised inks and beg me to attend their world, even though they know I am neither of it nor beyond it
After all, I’m crazy right? We’re crazy, right?
Maybe I am
and maybe we are
But I would rather reflect my community so they know that they stand where I stand,
in strength, love and resistance

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