NaPoWriMo #28

Brought Back to Life (revised)

Sold into flames, fiery pits sing of the determination of willful souls that know only the battles of their homeland.

Dead then alive, then dead again, human resurrection; phoenixes preparing to soar, resisting the shackles weighing them down.

Is this life’s reward? Are we waiting
to be brought back to life
while we negotiate to live?

Are we?


Part V: Iesha talks about the future with Deidrick

Photo by Cassandra MCD via ReShot

I never envisioned my life to be mapped out this way. Of course, I am certain not many teenagers do that — map their lives out ahead of time. I had been living for my parents, attempting to appease them. Then . . . Deidrick came along, and I began to live for myself — to experience joy — pure joy. He makes me so incredibly happy. I know what you’re thinking, “You’re young. You have your whole life ahead of you. Deidrick may not be the last guy you date.” But I don’t want to be with anyone else. I know who I want and he is that person.

I look down at my stomach and I feel the life growing inside me — our child — I don’t want anyone else. We will move into our own place soon. He saw to that. He’s been on a mission to get the things we need most and every time I try to offer help financially for these things, he puts a hand up and says, “Babe, I got this. When I don’t have it, I’ll let you know.” I’ve stepped back and I love watching him in action — watching him work for our good. A car soon, followed by our own place. I am absolutely baffled by the sheer existence of this in my head.

In a couple of months, we’ll be on our own — truly on our own. I would be lying if I said I was not frightened. I have fear. There are some doubts. But I get to do this with my best friend — my child’s father — hopefully, one day, my husband. When I think of my life on these terms, the fear subsides. Who will our little one look like? How will she sound? Will she want to learn how to speak both French and Diola along with English? Will she be a pescatarian or vegetarian? Most importantly, will she be healthy — happy — satisfied with her parents?

I have these thoughts — these worries — these things that pop up in my mind as minor stressors, but then I think about who I get to share this next phase of my life with, and I don’t feel as burdened by my mind. Deidrick has a great head on his shoulders. He’s strong-willed, a hard worker, intelligent, has our interests at heart, and loves his parents. I could not have asked for a better person to venture out on this journey with — he’s a God-send.

My parents think the world of him. My father, Oumar, in his thick Senegalese accent, says this about Deidrick: “This boy, I like. He’s smart, wants to work. I don’t worry about you nearly as much as I did when you first told us of your pregnancy. Stick with him, Iesha. I feel good things about him in my heart.” And if my father feels what he feels about Deidrick, I can’t be on the wrong path. My mother, Fatou, dotes on him. She and Deidrick will sit in the family room and have hours-long conversations while I entertain my dad and younger siblings. I have two little sisters; Khalia and Maya.

I will miss getting to see those two little silly ones every single day. I adore them. They have so much potential and Khalia is nothing short of a genius. She’s already being scouted by universities because of her test scores and the advanced learning courses she takes at her school. She’s only twelve! Maya is fourteen, and while she’s also intelligent, she doesn’t go above and beyond. She does what she needs to in order to toe the line in academia and get by. I don’t think she has any interest in school at all, but she knows that an education will provide her with the things she needs in life, and living under my parents’ roof, an education she will get.

I have been getting rid of a few things — things I no longer need — to prepare for our move. My mom and Maya have been helping. I do a bit of “spring cleaning” every other weekend as I tire easily these days. So far, I’ve boxed up most of my books, camera equipment, clothes, and shoes. We’re not hiring movers, no . . . between my father, Deidrick’s brother, uncles, dad, and cousins, we will not need to hire anyone. Deidrick’s mother is planning a baby shower for me in a month. I love her. She is truly like a second mother to me.

She has already been out and about buying clothes, diapers, bottles, etc. for our little one. My mom has been on a mission as well. We already have a crib, car seat, and stroller. This little one has a village awaiting her arrival and a daddy who would give her his last and more. She is loved by the ancestors and is prayed over and cared for daily.

As I get myself together for the transition of leaving home and venturing out on my own, I carry less weight. Knowing that I will not be alone is one of the key factors which I believe will help me grow without debilitating fear. Next weekend, the car. Deidrick and his uncle Rick got everything sorted out and the car will be ours. Two weekends after that, our own place.

I look to my future and I see Deidrick’s smiling face and the image of our baby girl being held in his loving arms. And well, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Take care.

Originally published in soliloque via Medium.

Part IPart II, Part III, and Part IV

“Hey” by KING: One of my favorite songs.

Sometimes, when I’m thinking about some of the best loves I’ve had in my life, and I hear this song, I get a bit teary-eyed. It’s such a beautiful song about pure, indescribable, natural love.

I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do. Listen to the words, let them wash over you. Peace.

The Gift of Life

Thyrie (pronounced “Theory”) Torie Devon Floyd, born on September 07, 2021. My youngest nephew (currently). Doesn’t he already look like he’s trying to figure out this crazy world of ours? Photo used with my brother, TJ’s permission.

For Thyrie: An Audio Poem

The Gift of Life

I keep saying I’m missing out on so much — 
I’ve lost every aspect of growth in 
front of me — I feel like I’m chasing 
after it — losing my speed. 
I’m trying . . . I swear, I am. 
My family is increasing in numbers — 
the beauty of life sheds her gifts
upon us, I am speechless.

My brothers keep me informed.
My phone is home to hundreds of
pictures of nieces and nephews 
from the beginning of their time
here on this earth. I can watch
their growth as much as I want.
I can rewind — playback — fast forward,
and stop time digitally, but in real life . . .
Nothing can be halted.

I don’t have 
that kind of power.

From the day he roared into this world,
I could tell Thyrie would be a thinker — 
an observer. I saw it in his eyes.
His soul has been here before, it isn’t
its first time. I dream of the day
I will hold him close to me, 
kiss his forehead, and sing him lullabies.

I am four hundred sixty-one miles 
away from the call of his cries,
the kindness of his giggles, and the
wonderment smoothed behind his ears.
I am so far away but so close to
him — connected by blood — linked by
history. How did I get to be an
auntie of six? How?!

There is a nation rising up in
Thyrie’s heart — he’s got a grip
on this world already. I think he 
knows what it needs — what we lack.
“There’s no pressure,” I whisper
to myself, but I can feel the intensity
of his stare. He will be infinite change — 
on loan to us for years to come.
Are we prepared?

I have lived long enough to see my
siblings form their own families;
whether big or small, and I still tear up
reminiscing about their childhood. 
When you can change a brother’s 
diaper or give a sister her bottle or 
help another brother learn how to swim,
while the youngest one watches on — 
waits for his turn, or you cook, clean, 
bathe, and rear up ones lagging behind
you in years — you gain wisdom.

In the eyes of this wondrous creation,
I see new beginnings and a world
I’m not so afraid to attack anymore.
I will call the day to me when I
will bask in his coos — be altered by his
smell. He has so much to teach me
and I am here to learn.

I am here to learn.

Originally published in The Junction via Medium.

*I wish I had more words to appropriately convey the joy I have in watching my family grow. I believe Thyrie will be another reason for me to load up my things and travel home and past home to just be with my people. Looking at him, it’s hard for me not to want to race as quickly as I can to him.

Thank you for reading and listening too.


Part VII: Soulful Legs Dance Studio has a new member.

Photo by Ratih Siubelan via Redshot

The night before my audition, I break the nail on my big toe pretty badly. It bleeds heavily on my bedroom carpet. I stand amazed at it. I don’t even feel the pain. I had been dancing for a few hours nonstop and must’ve broken it while turning. Mama notices it and shushes me repeatedly. At that moment, I had not known I was breathing hard and loud. She asks me to sit down on the bed while she gets the first aid kit. I sit. I wait. She rushes to the bathroom in the hallway, rushes back to my room, and takes out the antiseptic and some cleaning cloths.

I watch Mama clean up my toe, wrap it in gauze, then place a large bandaid over it. She is careful but she is serious. She tells me to stay off my feet for at least an hour — this applies to dancing. Then she says, “tomorrow when I come in from work, we can practice one more time before the audition.” My routine is five minutes long. Mama would have to rush home from work, hop in the shower, run through my routine with me, then we’d have to get to the studio by at least 1:50 p.m. This is what she said.

I don’t like being rushed. Mama knows this. She doesn’t like being rushed, either, but her boss had already said she could not get off thirty minutes early, so this is what we have to work with. I know my routine like the back of my hand. I can jump. I can leap. I can even do the three dances in between. But . . . it hurts so much when I come back down on my feet. My toe stings — a burning sensation runs through my entire left foot. Mama says, “dance through the pain, baby. It’s nothing big. It’ll heal.” And I guess she would know. She’s danced through a lot of pain.

Mama is home. She presses me to stand in front of her, look poised. We do my routine together one last time and when we’re finished, there’s a tear coming down Mama’s face. She orders me to sit down on the bed. She rushes to get the first aid kit again and she begins doctoring up my toe. Some more antiseptic, gauze, and another large bandaid are placed on my toe. She wraps it securely with an ace bandage and tells me to do the last three moves of my routine. I do them and I don’t cringe.

“There. You’re ready, baby. You’ve got this. Let’s go and show them who their next dance member will be.”

I started school this past week too! I haven’t even told you that, have I?! I’d been so excited about this audition and preparing for it that I forgot to mention my first week of school. Well, first half-week. I like the school well enough. My teachers are nice. I have one I don’t care for, but the others are pretty cool. I’ve made only one friend so far — Selena. She dances for Soulful Legs Dance Studio. She tells me all the things to spot and look out for during my audition. I listen and learn. I want to be on this squad so bad. I take all her information with me and use it to my advantage.

I nailed the routine! Two of the instructors were there and three of the senior dance members. Everyone loved it! Mama was in the crowd. I heard her “Hoot” after I was done, then I saw her shoot from her seat, jump up and down excitedly, and begin clapping. I couldn’t believe I’d finished the routine and landed every turn, every dance move, and all of my lines were straight and perfect. I also think it helped that I had three of the best songs on the radio as a mix for my routine: Craig Mack’s Flava In Ya Ear, Total’s Can’t You See, and Method Man & Mary J. Blige’s All I Need.

The instructors were dancing. The senior dancers were getting down! Mama was grooving too. I had such a great time. We didn’t have to wait long. The instructors talked for about five minutes, then called me and Mama to their side and told me I made it! I couldn’t believe it! I made it! We hurriedly drove home so we could tell Daddy and that’s where we are now — home.

We get out of the car, Mama locks everything up and we hurry inside to search for Daddy. He is sitting in the living room watching college football. I half-smile at him and Mama leans in for a kiss and says, “Guess what, Paulie!” Daddy looks over at me, smiles wide, and says, “You did it, didn’t you, Sweetpea?!” He hops out of his chair, slides toward me, and lifts me up into the air. I feel like I’m flying — like I can touch the sky. I am so incredibly happy!

And then, my toe aches. It’s a pain that reminds me I probably overdid it during my audition. I signal for Daddy to put me down and sit on the floor. I take off my shoe, remove my sock, unwrap the ace bandage, and finally the bandaid and gauze. Blood has dried over my toe and half of two of my other toes. the gauze is yucky. Mama sends Daddy for the first aid kit and she goes through the routine one more time. She orders me to take a bath and leave my left foot hanging out while I bathe.

When I am clean, we have an early dinner — it’s 5:30 p.m. Daddy made lasagna, garlic bread, fresh salad, and sweet tea & lemonade combined. Mama calls it Arnold Palmer. Why? I don’t even know. Every bite of my dinner is delicious. I forget about the pain in my toe again. I slip into the mood of the day and relax in front of the t.v. while Daddy rinses the dishes, loads the dishwasher, and Mama tidies up the kitchen.

They join me and Mama gets up, places a tape in the VCR, and my face appears. My music for the routine plays. And she throws a smile my way. She recorded the audition, but how! She looks at me as if she knows what I’m thinking and says, “Todd, the other senior member you did not see, recorded the entire thing for us. I wanted your Daddy to see what you accomplished today, baby.”

I look over at Daddy, he’s dancing in his chair, Mama pulls him up, and they begin dancing together. I stand in the same spot — stuck, but happy. Stuck, but honored. Stuck, but connected to these two beautiful parents of mine who made a very, very happy Clover.

Originally published in Hinged.Press via Medium.

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV,  Part V, and Part VI