I Looked Up for Michelle Meekins

by Glenis Redmond
(Greenville, South Carolina)

Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to "jump at de sun."
We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.
~Zora Neale Hurston

I looked up saw light in a room
with no windows. Me, a buster brown
scruff of a muffin girl, always trying
to catch beams falling and shooting star gleam:
any glow to hold me, while I was pinched
between Opossum Kingdom and Piedmont.
Standing before me
I saw a ray not squeezed or hemmed
in by small minds and attitudes.
Mrs. Meekins’ cropped fro
burning bout her head like a righteous ring,
an ebony halo spiraling a 70’s meaning, right on right on.
I cut my own locks in solidarity
to her boldness.
Caught Carolina Hell from boys
and old school black women saying the length
of a woman’s hair accounts for her beauty.
My compass had been set internally
to her square shoulder aspect.
I circled my days at Woodmont
and drew from her strength. Followed
her lead and how she waded
through the halls unmarred. I figured
I carved myself like a tip of her arrow
that pierced hate with a posture
that did not think about knowing her place,
a fine point I learn to polish
never bent, bowed or broken. I figured
I fly with her swift trajectory
– quivering undaunted.

Yeah, I looked up –
to keep from being held down.
Caught hope where I could find it:
15 minutes 5 times a week in homeroom.
I felt the strength of her boldface. lead
teaching me to fly beyond places
that never made room.
I kept aiming
shooting for a spot in this world
until I perched on poetry,
where I finally landed
and made myself a home.

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