Clover

Photo by Monstera via Pexels

Part VI: All the world’s my stage

When Mama hands me my plate of food, it takes everything in me not to shovel it down my throat quickly. The waffles are perfect; nice and fluffy. I eat my cheesy scrambled eggs eagerly the entire time. Mama looks at me, smiles slyly, and nods in approval. A happy belly makes a happy Clover. She knows this. Daddy knows this. Soon, my classmates will too. I have two more days before school starts and I want to be prepared.

Mama and I went to get school supplies and a few new outfits last week. I like what I picked out. Now that I am getting older, Mama lets me select my own pairings in outfits and shoes. I like my style. Mama says I look like a cross between Punky Brewster and Meg Murry when I get dressed up.

I dance. My specialties are Hip Hop and Tap. I’ve been dancing since I was five years old. Mama said it was “essential” that I learn something to do with my body — mainly my hands and feet.

I am a ball of energy, as you’ve probably guessed. But I was once what my mama said was, “quite the handful,” when I was younger. She tells me now, “If I didn’t put you in dance, you’d be bouncing off the walls. Dancing is a great way for you to use all that extra energy God gave you.”

When I’m on the stage, nothing else matters. Nothing else is. It’s just me and the music. My body moves rhythmically and I follow the beat, focused on perfecting the choreography issued to us during practices.

One of the first things Mama did when we got settled here in Hopeulikit was to find a dance studio. Luckily, there isn’t one far from where we live. Bulloch County isn’t the biggest county around, but at least, they’ve things to keep a kid like me busy and interested.

Soulful Legs Dance Studio is the place Mama settled on. She spoke with the head instructor on two different visits, got their pricing information, talked things over with Daddy, and now . . . I will continue what I had been doing in Summerville before we moved here — dancing. She brought home two pamphlets; one for me and one for her.

I stared at the photo on the front of the pamphlet; a huge stage with so many girls and boys and instructors standing on it — posing for the photo. I smiled hard at the image because I thought of myself dancing across that stage on Friday and Saturday nights. Mama says I have an audition on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. I am going to be sure I bring my A++ game. Mama says if I’m selected, I’ll begin practice the following Tuesday evening after school. I am excited but a little nervous too.

Just a few butterflies in my belly, nothing to get all crazy about. I know I’ll be fine. I know what I can do and Mama dances with me sometimes, too. She’s still got some great moves. She glides across the floor so perfectly. Her lines are symmetrical and she doesn’t miss a beat. Mama keeps time with every song we play and I just stare at her. Sometimes I whisper to myself while she’s dancing, “That’s my Mama.” Yep. She’s amazing.


Photo by David Hofmann via Unsplash

Before I was born, Mama danced for some big-time theater in Los Angeles, California for about five years. Dad likes to talk about this — Mama, not so much. Something about tearing her ACL and being forced to quit dancing. I don’t really bring up the subject — her face sinks into itself and it seems like the whole world could get sad from the power of her feelings. I think . . . and you better not tell her, either . . . I think she feels like she failed at it, you know? Since she can’t really dance like she should and as hard as she used to that she has failed at it, somehow.

I tell her all the time, “Mama, you’re my favorite dancer,” and I mean it too. She sits back and smiles a half-smile and her eyes get all teary — gives me chills. Daddy told me one time, “Sweetpea, when your mama took to that stage, no one uttered a word. All eyes were on her.” When Daddy talks about Mama’s dancing days, he lights up — he gets so happy I can feel the sunshine leaving his body. But he quiets down a little also when Mama comes around. It’s like the stage is an awful place for Mama and well . . . every chance I get, every place I go to, I dance. All the world’s my stage.

It’s just better not to talk about it too much around Mama, is all. I’m just happy she takes the time to dance with me — to still feel the music and try her legs out. They still work. They still carry her. She can even balance her whole body on one leg for ten minutes! Can you believe that?! TEN WHOLE MINUTES! I was excited to see it the first day she showed me and you know what she said? “Oh baby, your mama used to do this for twenty minutes a long, long time ago.”

I look forward to the audition, but I’m really just ready to get it all over with and start dancing with a new team. I miss my squad in Summerville, but I think I’m getting used to newer things happening. At least, I want to get used to the new things that are happening. Mama says there will be three judges. The piece we’re working on is a mix of Jazz, Funk, and Hip Hop and we’re going to have one of my favorite songs mixed in, Craig Mack, Flava In Ya Ear. We are working very hard — day and night. We have fun, too, though.

I’m just hoping they like the routine well enough to accept me. That’s my hope — my dream. I know Mama likes that I dance, too. I know it makes her happy. I see her sometimes when I’m dancing. She looks at me like she’s missing something bigger, but she’s happy to still hold on to a bit through me. I’m going to take to that stage and rip it up for my mama.

I am . . . I am . . . Just watch!

Originally published in Hinged Press via Medium.


Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V

Surrender (Revised)

the lust-filled air summons us,
our hearts bent on breaking.
I have reached my limit for
raising hell and you
throw up a white flag.

surrendering never looked
so sexy.

this is what I tell myself
as I watch your body
cascade away from me . . .
you are a rhythm I fear
but I long for too.

could I be falling for the image
of you?

we lie awake
aware of the tempest between us
and life saddles us with
a harsh decision . . .

lean in or run away,
I choose to surrender.

Turn My Body Loose

Abbott Birth by Victor Garcia. Used with permission.

A poetic rant

We, women . . . we cling to our bodies
our sense of self wrapped up in them
and warped to nothingness by the
White men who use their minds to
belittle and belie our truths at every
corner — at every junction. 
How are we to live in a nation
full of vultures?

How are we to cope?

A balking group of people has
made it their life’s work to
strip the woman of the one
thing we had total control over — the body.
And what next? What will they 
search and seize and lasso into
their slimy possession that 
belongs to us?

We are yclept weaker or lesser 
yet they use laws to silence us — to push
us into the closets of their making.
Is it fear? Is it egotistical? Is it bullying?
What can we say about the men 
who have no desire to protect us?
What can we say about the women
who support them?

Turn my body loose. You have
no reign here — it is mine. I carry it,
I nurture it — grow it into the massive
mountain you wish you could climb.
Tread lightly, though, I can shake it
and rattle you at my will. 
I can crush you if ever I feel the need to.

Were these your reasons? Is this your why?

Could you no longer take the 
strength and representation within
something built of atoms and flesh and blood
that is not solely yours?
It boggles my mind how senseless
human beings have become 
but even more so, how drunk with 
power many men are.

If it were up to me, I’d rally
the world around us to bury
your tongues in the potholes meant 
for them and turn the sun’s rays
up higher — burn, motherfucker, burn.
We’d stand by, fan the flames, and 
call Lucifer to your collective side.

We’d let him have his way with you,
just as you’ve had yours with us.


Originally published in my new publication, soliloque, via Medium.

Brought Back to Life (Revised)

Microfiction

Photo by Rahul Pandit via Pexels

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

Dead then alive, then dead again, human resurrection; phoenixes rising up, resisting the shackles weighing them down. We move to get away from ourselves. We seek peace in other lands — eager to take over other worlds. Will our legs carry us to places unknown?
 
Temptation comes in two forms; young or old. We crave them both. Is this life’s crown? Are we waiting to be brought back to life while we struggle to live? 
 
Are we?


Revised version originally published in soliloque via Medium.