How to Survive in This Black Body: A Poem

by Audacious I AM

be born in rural town
ruleville mississippi
tracks away from any person
that could ever look like body
be marginalized black
and ruptured black body

never forget that body
is brown and black and colored
              many will never let body forget
even the pale face girl that sits
across from body in the doctor's office
she will tell her mother that body is black
that body is big             and that she has never
seen any     thing          like body          before

she will reach out
to touch black body                   winsome and divine
but her mother’s voice will hit the ceiling
breathes before her pastel hands ever do
remove any thought of equality
             fight harder for everything body
will ever receive
even when it is meant for black body
sometimes body will have to
side-eye the shit of out anyone who tells
them that body does not deserve it
black body will look strange
bizarre and mystifying
black body will look
perplex and extraordinary
black body will look distressed
broken               and beaten
even when it is not
even when it is
just     being    black

when under attack
when compared to animals
even when held down by the neck
to your grave
pick up body
pick body up again
And cry into body
don’t forget to be human
but       always remember
to be black

body will always be loud
be fresh be dope
and all the time
remember that body is beauteous
exact and precise
body is delicate
magical and whole
know that black body is the truth
melanin don’t tell no lies
black body is a warrior
praiseworthy and just
remember that black body is god
and know that black body is a river
                                              sacred like scriptures seeping
from lips of a southern soul

and lastly
to survive
this woman
in this black body
must remember to     breathe
and believe

Photo: Shutterstock

Audacious I AM was raised in Ruleville, Mississippi and holds a BA from Rust College and MFA from Mills College. Winner of the Best Literary Works of 2010 in Dallas, TX, she is a founding member of the Spoken Word collective Pr3ssPlay Poets and Productions. Audacious is currently editing the anthology
Blues Arrival: Stories of the Queer Black South & Migration