Skip to content

Ode to a Black Woman


(Photo by William Stitt)

When you speak

it can be light and playful and full of


and with a flip of your hair, and the narrowing of your eyes

you can turn lighthearted banter into a sermon and summon the wisdom of all the ages.

The spirits – they flock to you when you walk.

The eyes – they turn to you when you talk.

And when you dance – Lord, when you dance. Thunder knows no better competitor.

And for this white boy, you were a safe haven

granting me mercy and grace – when you yourself had little to spare sometimes from white people sometimes from your men in your own race.

You showed me how to cook – Ms. Brenda, I see you there.

And when you called me ‘baby’ -“Whew, lord…” why, I melted into the floor.

Straight through – all the way to China.

Seriously, “Where’s the body ma’am. No one will ever ever know. “

I’ll set my watch and salvation and my money in the bank on it.

You come in all shapes and sizes and tones

sometimes you come with an accent like Creole, or African,

or trailing the speech of whatever time zone you happen to occupy.

Sometime it’s Spanish and sometimes it’s French

and sometimes it’s ‘hood’ when your angry, something you can turn off and on like a light switch.

But where ever you are or where ever you’ve been.

On the stage, on the floor of government,

or in the grocery store or at church

people watch you

sometimes those eyes aint no good

sometimes those eyes are just wide with awe

if you want to know for whatever reason gazes are cast upon you

its because you are something to behold

whether you’re young or whether you’re old

people know when a black woman is in the room

So in this world, with it’s dizzy distractions and dissatisfactions

of lazy minds and backwood ignorant interactions

where white means right and everyone else is left

feeling tired and worn and see through

there’s a black woman, arms folded under her bosom

rollin’ her eyes the way we all wished we could

So whether you’re a Whitney, a Maya, an Oprah, or just you

Just you is enough – overwhelmingly enough

to find, and be, and speak the truth

and the truth is this, it’s always been this

And I know it hasn’t been said enough

and I know saying so will make some sorry ass throw a fit

but our world has been made better simply because you’re in it.

Yes, our world, my world, this world has been made better

simply because you are in it.