For Toni Morrison

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by Maya Black (White)

for years, i have envisioned dialogue with the artist who has opened my eyes to a world. a world of creativity, something of nothing 

in those years, i have procrastinated and neglected my artistic spirit from reaching out to the mind of lyrical literature. 

the creator and mastermind of lyrical literature, Toni Morrison, has set the reality of black lives in writing and with those words has opened a spiritual cortex that transcends one’s own reality. 

          my thoughts, dreams and ideas have been stirred by the words in your writing. 

          your writing touches some part of my existence, whether if it is from the past, present or future.

          it is unexplainable, ineffable yet reliable. 
          your words speak truth which makes them trustworthy. 

the works of Song of Solomon, Sula, and The Bluest Eye creates an experience for me. they tell stories of beliefs, african-american customs and ancestral spiritual existence.  

my first time reading your work, i was seventeen years old in a public school english class. english books are typically traditional and/or old english classical literature choices and are comprehensible for the student if it is of their personal interest. Sula was my teachers reading of choice, the choice was revolutionary and timing was essential because that year as a student i was struggling emotionally. 

                           from what I remember in two thousand twelve, Sula was an expressive character. she knew what she wanted. her personality is directive and full of spirit.  the environment reciprocated Sula’s behavior and lifestyle. she was in tune with herself and her surroundings. her connectivity among herself and the world was deviant but controlled. reflecting on myself, i noticed a lot of times i was Nel and Sula.

i did not know i could resemble non-fictional characters.
I did not notice, I had a story
 historical significance
  spiritual sensibility 

i went running for more, and found The Bluest Eye… or i could admit that it found me

then i found myself, or part of me from the past and a little bit of the present.

Claudia and Pecola were there and in them there was my story, my truth and tragedy

all in words, but inside of me..

i was amazed that my experience, my feelings were articulable 

a sense of self grew; i had something to talk about because i realized my problems were real 
i was not alone.. 

i was in awe, for a while and felt inspired, destined and known. worthy and empowered. 

i read more then finally…. Song of Solomon was presented to me from the hands of my senior english teacher.

what i found in the experience of reading  Song of Solomon was the beauty of passing the physical world. 

I first read this book in two thousand thirteen, but felt it was right to experience the reading again in 
august of two thousand sixteen

as always, your words transcend my reality.. my truth and my tragedy 

while reading Song of Solomon, or what I like to call it my SOS, i was celebrating the life of my 
Daddy who was turning fifty-two on august third. 

as a gift, i decided to write a letter to him in honor of his exceptional parenting and express my 
gratitude, love and  respect for him as my Daddy

what I felt while writing that letter is indescribable.

the tears that followed the words were necessary and connected 

similar… so familiar like the love and appreciation Milkman had for Pilates, and Pilates for Jake (her Daddy)

i read that book into my Dad’s last days, six days after his birthday 

since then, SOS clearly interpreted ancestry and the spirituality of life 

                                       the cycle of spirituality and ancestry = the existence of life

SOS guided me for what i was going to experience spiritually

i read and finished SOS on the hospital couch with my Daddy

at one time we happened to look at one another with silent concern.. 

i ask him “you need anything?” he says no.. 

i remember there was a glow in his eyes..

i watched my father fight his disease, spirit first

like an angel, Jake, he did not surrender to fear and despair 

i was his precious, protected and boldly poised Pilate

just how Pilate carried her father with her until she passed her spirit along in the universe, 

                                           I feel the spiritual responsibility to do the same

i witnessed his last breath, the riding of spirit into the universe  

my daddy taught me so many things, but in his last days he taught me how to live, speak, fight and  be

the beauty of spiritual being

do not fear death

do not fear the unknown

carry the spirit of what made you, not makes of you…

be bold, black and beloved

Maya Black (White) is a scholar at the University of Louisville and director of the non-profit KY Recovery Resource Center. If Maya isn't working, traveling or reading, you can find her facilitating a black girlhood empowerment program, GLOW, at the Louisville Urban League or enjoying a coffee at a local shop