I am a black man.
I was planted in deep, loamy, black soil by my black father.
Cradled, cultured and coaxed out like a tuber of yam by my black mother.
Though I came from one womb, I am birthed by many mothers – some of skin like bark and timber, some of eyes of yellow like cassava.
I have a scandalous affinity with shadows in this here regime of light.
I know the suffering, the shame of being late no matter how punctual I get.
I want to be held and seen and known, to be allowed the luxury of variance.
I still feel the stings of a thousand lashes on my ancestral back, the cuts bleeding into my dawn, haunting my dusk.
This justice, this one promised by your identity politics, it makes room for me, I thank you.
Though this room is a dank cell with no bleeding windows. I cannot fly here.
It holds me captive in a mathematical equation. It closes me off from how things spill, how things wander off, how things lose their way.
In this house of brittle bodies, one must thread softly.
In this grid, emancipation is the proliferation of more grids, all hovering magnetically above the radiant equality sign, awaiting entry into the citizenship of representation.
I cannot stay here too long. I cannot abide the routine of this jail cell. I am tired of guarding these concrete walls.
I must spill.
I am a black man.
My mother is water, and my father is movement.
My blackness is not an identity, stable and secure like a stain on white cloth. My blackness is a roaming principle, a geological force uncovering the otherwise, a departure from convenient algorithms, a fierce conjuring in a language so secret that the words themselves do not realize they are part of the spell. My blackness is an invitation to the sensuousness of the pothole, to the hospitality of the crack in the wall. My blackness is what happens when loss touches itself, when a people is brought to the edge of apocalyptic Atlantic waters, and still carry a strange hope. My blackness is the creolized promiscuity at the borderlands of goodness. My blackness is the miraculous undoing of identity.
In the morning, you won’t find me here. I will have gone to the place of my many mothers, their palace webbed with herbs and incantations and patient hospitality. And they will lay me down, and press a strange smelling paste into my brittle skin. They will close off the pores and bind me with their embroidered wrappers. When I am ready and done, after three days sweating in the hot sun, I will be good to go, good enough to fall apart like they do.
I will be lighter than air.
I will know the highway of blackness in its fluid ethereality.
I will know how to fly,
for what is my blackness if not the secret of flight?