Braided - a poetry collection by Afro Flower
© 2019. Braided, Anneliese Palmer.
Braided is my poetic journey of coming out as queer, being a black woman in my 20somethings, and growing into who I am as a human being. I'm still figuring it all out, so why not write it out?
(Reposted daily as a poetic diary of my first Pride being out!)
June 1st: I am queer. And I am here.
June 2nd: One strand of hair over the other. I came out to my family while I was box braiding my sister’s hair. over the other. It was a positive distraction as I tried to get the words out. over the other. I was proud of myself for even speaking up. As the words of my mouth flowed like the hair between my fingers, my voice shook but carried through. over the other. By the time I was finished speaking, I moved on to the next braid. One strand of hair over the other.
June 3rd: I love me not. I love me. I love me not. I love me. Each petal is a not that knots around my self-worth of the person I long to be. Back and forth until there is no distinction from the beginning to the end. I pulled until I reached the stems of my subconscious and with a reluctant heart, had to accept that the stems are where I start and must grow from. My flower is not beautiful. But it is I and I remain no matter how many petals are pulled off. I love me not. I love me.
June 4th: OMG! I love your hair! Can I touch your hair? Can I pull it while your back is turned? Can I pet it and feel its fluff? I promise I’ll be quick. I just want a touch.
June 5th: I’m full of life. I’m full of fire. I’m full of love and rage and hope and fear and joy and pain and every emotion a human being can contain inside this earthly body.
June 6th: Life isn’t a checklist. Things are not written in order and then that order stays straight. Life is more like twists and turns, dips and curves, bumps and bruises all tied together in a messy knot. A knot that lies just above the edge of my soul, keeping it together.
June 7th: Cross-eyed, starry-eyed, red-rimmed gaze. I see the world through these two eyes and they take everything in, leaving nothing behind.
June 8th: I hear the thunder rumble and listen to the fall of the rain. Our dog is shaking so badly that I can see her muscle quivering underneath her fur. I wrap my arms around her and stoke her muzzle. Looking into her warm brown eyes, I try to telepathically convey that everything will be alright. You won't have to fear for very long. Not while I’m here.
June 9th: Making new friends makes my nerves shiver and shake. But, it is worth the relationships made despite the anxiety of saying "Hello."
June 10th: “I enjoy hearing my parents argue.” Is not something many people are able to say. They cannot hear their parents argue for 4 hours and those hours are filled with laughter, frustration, and intimacy all wrapped into one. I enjoy hearing my parents argue because they argue not just as contacted lovers, but as two close friends. Growing together as one and growing in themselves separately. Learning and re-learning each other every day. Perfection is not in their vocabulary and because of that, it is not in mine for when I someday find my partner.
June 11th: My mom is collecting names and writing them down. A family tree from the 1800s branching down to the 21st century, all written down in the Family Bible by a great-grandmother. Two women, generations apart, united by a common goal. Remembrance.
June 12th: Today at a bus stop, I researched the words “drag queens” and “queer”. I read articles written by people of the LBGTQ+ community about these identities, their history, and their future. There’s a lot I don’t know, but I do know that I am willing to learn the history of us.
June 13th: I have lost many friends during my childhood to adulthood. Their absence has not burned and will not scar. But the thought of losing my best friend would rip out my heart from between my ribs.
June 14th: There’s nothing like researching the LGBT+ community with your older sister while babysitting, cat sitting, eating takeout and ice cream in your pjs outside. On the same day. Not necessarily in that order.
June 15th: Re-do it, re-write it, re-work it. A new angle, an old angle, an angle you’ve never seen before. Keep at it. Take a break. Take a week. Keep going.
June 16th: A guy once texted me asking how I was doing. I replied: “Eh. Right now my family is living on the floor of my cousin’s living room, so...” He never texted back. He was a celebrity. So, it’s okay.
June 17th: Is there such a thing as being “silently queer”? The type of queer where you are not ashamed at who you are, and perhaps you are in in a place where you’re allowed to let the world know..but know what exactly? Does the world need to know who I am as I am trying to figure it out?
June 18th: I can barely focus. I’ve tried and tried and tried. I’m trying to pinpoint what direction I want to go in with life. I’m trying and trying and trying. I want to do so much and I am afraid just as much. Not of failure. But of the overwhelmingness of succeeding. Isn’t that funny? Not afraid of winning but of the path it will take me. Of the voices around me, of the people supporting me. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So why does that scare me the most?
June 19th: My mom would tell us about how she celebrated Juneteenth with her family when she was a child. Yes, a celebration of the enslaved Africans in Texas who were finally told they were free...but two years earlier. She asked us to imagine the hope, rage, fear, and jubilee that swept over the enslaved people when they heard the news. It was a new day, a new hope, a new people. Freed.
June 20th: There is kindness. Big kindness that spreads across the internet, reminding others that there is hope in this world. And little kindness, reminding you that there is hope in the world. Both are equally important.
June 21st: Sometimes, you need to find what matters. Other times, you need to make things matter.
June 22nd: How much should I push myself? When is it not enough? When is it too much? Is there a scale where I can weigh my dreams and aspirations on, alongside my fears and doubts? Some say take your time, others say pain is to gain. I just want to know the right answer, the right way. But not knowing are the growing pains.
June 23rd: Words flowing from the mouth can stretch for miles long or stop right at your doorstep. Some words stick like butter to a pan, while others miss their mark by a few hundred inches. Words carry meaning. Words carry assumptions. Words carry stories. Carry them well.
June 24th: I AM WRITING! Taking notes for a shopping list, I am writing. Putting together my to-do list, I am writing. Jotting down ideas that make sense and ideas that make none, I am writing. I am proud of every word I write. I celebrate the words I write as I write them. I celebrate all of my writing.
June 25th: Sisterhood is: giggles and screams and laughter and anger and lies and scratches and slaps and hugs and whispers and yelling and fighting and loving and everything in between.
June 26th: Our hearts were not meant to inhale the stench of the continuous cycle of despair and hopelessness that is held in the palm of our hands, exposed with a swipe of a finger. Our souls were not meant to be wooed by every act of suffering whispered into our ears. Our minds were not created to be filled with never-ending cruelty. Awareness has become mandatory, lest you are accused of ignorance and guilted into knowledge.
June 27th: Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is breathing without the life flowing through you, opening up the windows and the warmth of the sun does not bring forth joy, and having time pass...but you are not.
June 28th: Sometimes, a family is worth the discomfort of tingling feet, a sore butt, and leg cramps during family movie night.
June 29th: Being Queer has never felt like such a more natural state of being, but it is not all that I am, and becoming.
June 30th: Words upon words build on top of one another. Each more powerful than the last. Spilling from my mouth, dripping from my tongue, once opened cannot be undone. In all of the words I have written, there are still more to come. So keep reading, and wait for the next ones.