All the love in my life
Starts with a Black woman
Black girl blink
And my heart goes still
Black girl breathe
And I hold my breath
Black girl bruise
And my lip plumps blue
I keep watch
Fall into the rise of her stomach
Be blessed that I can share a bed with a miracle
Build a life around this sanctuary of a woman
I love Black woman so much,
She have my hands
My fist and all its allegiance
So when Black woman
Calls queer nasty,
When she calls me mistake,
When she says,
“Love is love
but I’ll skip the wedding”
I ask how ocean can drown its own sand
How flower can spit at the sun
How I’m cut off at the knees
In the middle of standing ovation
Black girl say God don’t like gay
Say church made her say it
Say mama taught her the words
Daddy gave her the throwing stones
Gave me the glass body
What good is my armor
When the shots are fired inside the house?
Like we didn’t build these walls together
Seal the roof to keep the danger out
Line the floors with each other
Aint I go to war for you?
Let my mouth be gun for us both?
Didn’t I step through the same fire?
Perform to the same silence?
Clap for your every move?
I crowned you magic
And you treat me like witch
Like we did not survive starvation
Eating from the palms of each other’s hands
Like we aint still sitting at the same table.
Black girl lie to her own reflection.
Say she don’t know me
Like I aint drown in her this morning.
Like I didn’t turn her to well water
To only place we can both bow our heads
In mutual praise
Say hallelujah I have met God,
And she is a Black woman that loves me back
Loves me right
Just to look her in the eyes is to give
And have all returned
Black girl scared
Of a Black girl
Who love Black girls
Rather take her chance on Black boys
Who tell Black girl:
Where to stand
Where to kneel
Where to lay flat
In case he feel like wiping his feet
Black girl grin from three feet behind him
Pick my bones from his teeth
To line her plate
Laugh with him over her own empty stomach
Call it a privilege to know power by the way it holds her at the throat
Cock her head to tell me I’m
Black girl call my love a goddamn shame.
And the best part–
I still reach out my hand
Call her to me
Wipe the slap from my face
All the love in my life
Ends with a Black woman
How I kneel before her
How she cuts me at the neck
How this is still the safest place to bleed.
Lindsay Young is a poet from Long Island, New York. She competed at the 2018 Women of the World Poetry Slam and represented the city of New York as a member of The Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s 2018 National Poetry Slam team. Lindsay was crowned a 2018 NUPIC (National Underground Poetry Individual Competition) Co-Champion. She was a member of the 2019 Brooklyn Slam team, and was part of their poetry production that premiered in Antigua in the Summer of 2019. She is the author of Salt to Taste, her debut book of poetry, which was published the Summer of 2019. She is a Winter Tangerine alumnus, a 2020 Watering Hole fellow, and her work has been published in The Fem Lit Magazine, The Offing Magazine, and featured on Blavity and SlamFind. She currently works for nonprofit organizations as a counselor and workshop facilitator, largely servicing youth of color.