Our rose bushes are blooming, unafraid, on their own. Not even birds can deny the depths of them. They are like mini trees. Evergreen and erect. A perfect combination of lush and sublime. Their leaves are perfect. Carved into an angle that say so little of how glorious they are. The folds of each rose fall neatly in ways that keep me humble. Everything about them, the stories they never tell, are perfect, forcing me to rise, erect, evergreen, like a rose.

Someone shared this on my twitter feed today. A letter from Kurt Vonnegut, about advice with life. To him, ‘practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.’

I am in the process of becoming.

In the process too of making my soul grow.

I keep practicing poetry writing.

Keep telling stories too.

Not for any fame or fortune, but to live in the moment.

As all the words within me linger on till eternity.

Kurt Vonnegut also noted that we should practice a six-line poetry about anything but rhymed. The sentences above are my attempt at writing six lines. I hope you find your way of becoming

The letter below.

There’ll be red sand. Red stoneless sand will line all the roads you see. But still, keep walking. The distant paths will blend to red and orange and red again. You’ll drop to your knees to feel their reddish nature. The roads ahead will lay bare, but for footsteps. Hurried steps. Hushful legs. Bristling through unaware of their walk through roads of red and oranges. You’ll see women and children walking. Some with babies carried at their back, walking. Some with things on their heads, like water or oranges shaped like pyramids, walking. Some, walking and waiting for their turns on orange and black Keke’s or motorbikes. Reds and oranges blend with the sole of their feet, moving freely with all the forces within. Everyone you see will be going somewhere. Hurried and unhurried steps, will be moving somewhere. Legs will do all the walking. Mouths will do all the greeting. But eyes, will speak only what eyes see.

Image from The Dream Keeper and other poems by Langston Hughes with illustration by Brian Pinkey.

Sometimes we don’t need experts. Not when we know the truth of our lives for ourselves. Sometimes all we need are spaces and places that allow us to name and describe our truths for ourselves, as we know it too. Sometimes, all we want is to listen more closely to ourselves, freely tell and share all our fears, compare all our wounds, not for your pity, but to see if through my words as shared to you, I can find healing for myself through you. It’s only in sharing, that we see ourselves more clearly. Sometimes all we want are eyes that see us clearly and ears that hear us fairly and minds that open up to us more dearly. Sometimes, I want to be next to those who allow me to see beyond all my eyes can see of that which is within me. I am afraid of what words will do if only I have the time to share it but sometimes all we want are the times, all of it for revealing our deepest fears, crying as we release all that we bury deeply, knowing that this poem we weave together with the words sometimes can only begin to manifest as the sum of our lives because we used the power of some times to change what is, know what has been, and imagine together the possibilities of what might be. Keep some times.

All of this was inspired by the great Adrienne Rich. Discovering her is doing something else to my mind and words. It is so scary but I am in awe and grateful.

The images you have of me. Mother, researcher, doing work in far away places. All of them are true. But those that are invisible. Everything hidden, under, and in between the lines like Toni Morrison’s invisible ink, are the bones that keep me tall and erect. One day, I will leave you hoping to see just how the story unfolds. What scenery passes through my window daily or whether i truly kiss the night air. Only that it would just be the beginning of the day in which all that I am to become, everything buried deeply within me, oozes forth like an ache.

I am possible, today, tomorrow, and forever, because I know my dreams, and my dreams go on dreaming, unbroken, unfettered, unafraid. They look to rivers and mountains, parks and creeks for inspiration that some call ambitious. Then they see struggles, all sorts of strife and pain lurking by the doorway, asking if we would like to come in. We do. Falling deeply into depths we pray will not leave us powerless. Not when we know what lies within us, all that cries out to arise from these depths we find ourselves in. We do, reaching for the skies above, hoping this wasn’t a dream. Dreams are always wasted if you don’t dream again. So we do, dreaming still that what lies hidden, everything under and in between the lines, remain unbroken, unfettered, unafraid, now that we touch all that aches within us.

My presentation today went well. We need more dreamers in global health.

The night air this Monday night stirs up new feelings within me. Call it nervousness, uncertain feelings, wishing to hide underneath a blanket and wait for Wednesday night to come, when this restless hunger will fade into the night like a rapture. In search of synergy, I move with my baby, who darts in and out my room. Jump around as he jumps too. Perhaps this movement with him is what I needed most. Perhaps being together is all I need. May this movement that shows up everyday. Whether from a baby or the night air, carry you through like a talking drum, from this to that, along the road only love knows.

Lorraine Hansberry once wrote about how the Negro writer stands surrounded by whirling elements of the world. She noted that the writer stands neither on the fringe nor utterly involved: just a prime observer waiting poised for inclusion…yet, the world awaits our work. It is from this perspective that I intend write about the world as I see it. I also seek to write about us. To tell stories of myself, my people, everything that I see. My ask, come as you and see me learn to bear witness to all I know. I am learning these days that I do have something glorious to draw on begging for attention.

I am overwhelmed and tired. Trying to stay focused but exhausted. I feel like I am running a race that never ends. I want it to end, but I keep running. There will be days like this I am told. Today is one of those days, I see. Nothing brilliant to say expect that all I need right now is rest. This maybe the most brilliant thought I have held all day.

I came across a remembrance of the phenomenal Toni Cade Bambara written by the unconquerable bell hooks. There was so much to unpack that I felt the need to rephrase all that stood out for me to keep. Few have ever written as brilliant as Toni Bambara. Even Toni Morrison once described her as brilliant. She really ways. The below words, are written in her honor and inspired by the piece by bell hooks. May you find her work and keep it for yourself.

Groundbreaking. Black woman. See her gaze. Watch her struggle. Feel the pain. As she kicks the door open. Black woman. See her life. A beacon light. Warm and welcoming. As she loves blackness. Black woman. See her near. Laughing to dissent. Oppositional to resist. Black woman. See her love. Nurtured and sustained. Insights so important. Beginning in self and with self. Black woman. See her transformed. Unconditional acceptance offered. Despite fierce debates. Generous with time and thoughts. Black woman. See her solidarity. Always with people. Justice for everyone. Always willing to sacrifice. Black woman. See her edge. Inventing her life. All on her own terms. Black woman. See her survival. Her capacity to live. Choosing her communities. Living perfectly with imperfections. Black woman.

Remembering Toni Cade Bambara.

See her see. Solitude and order. Everything in place. Appreciating herself for being herself. Black woman. See her thinking. Clarity of speech. Gifts flowing openly. Black woman. See her power. Pleasure of struggles. Encouragement of others. Never let them get you down. Black woman. See her dedication. Journey towards self. Stiring from slumbers. Rising and rescuing ourselves and one another. Black woman. See her brilliance. Optimism and vigilance. Heart of obligation. Black woman. See her imagination. Capacity to reach. Use and power. Giving freely and expecting the same. Black woman. See her vibrant. Full forceful life. Dying and living. Renewing the spirit for the journey ahead. Black woman. See her ready. Peace with life. Faith despite struggle. Peace be still. Living and teaching but reaching other. Black woman. And everything about you will always be ground breaking for looking and seeing Black women as they are.

I know that girl. I see the light in her eyes every time she remembers she can do anything. She may not know how to be brave in the moment. May not know what to say or how to fight back in the moment. But when she remembers her mother’s voice, she knows she can do anything. She may not know what to do at times. May not know where to even begin. But when she remembers her daddy’s voice, she knows she can do anything. She may never know why things come her way. She may never see them coming her way. But when she remembers her grandmother voice, she knows she can do anything. She may feel frightened at times. May feel helpless at times. But when she remembers her grandpas voice, she knows she can do anything. And so she does. What may seem impossible for others, is possible for her. Especially now that she knows she can do anything.