Anointed to Fly…

straight creme mixed with cinnamon
churned like butter creme

and Tan

coffee tan
smooth cocoa tan
dusty tan
like the wings on a morning dove
in flight tan

and Brown

brown like arms of warrior trees
that refused the rope
brown like fertile fields
unfurrowed unploughed
caramel brown
chestnut brown
chocolate brown

and Yellow

high yellow
lemon yellow
butterscotch yellow
don’t-have-to-defend-myself yellow

and Black

panther black
midnight black
intense black
singing freedom black
like won’t be diluted grey black

black women
our sisters

we know you well.

You are the
daughters of women
who dipped you whole
in the waters of promise.

You have no achillies heels.

for you are the
daughters of women
who detached their wings
repaired them
and passed them on
to you
that you would fly
like eaglewomen black
beyond the reach
of anyone who wants us buried

with hands that cupped breast for you
they cut the cord
unfurled your wings
released you
and in their woman’s voice
they are chanting to the winds you ride,
“Not Fragile
Not Fragile
Not Fragile
Not Fragile”
but “Handled with care”

we know you well.

we see you pirouetting like first
picks for an Alvin Ailey suite on blackness
walking big-city tough
small-town shy
walking in footprints
you can not yet measure
but must claim as heirlooms
from women
who are legends
and legacies
which name you
black women

we know you well.

you are black women
preening with pride
palpitating with passion
stretching for knowledge

empowered empowering Black women
Black chosen women
our sisters
anointed to fly

we know you well

you have come
from ranch-styles
estates that own the woods
you have com
from duplexes
with walls thin enough
to stereo sounds of sorrow
you have come
from tenements shot-guns flats projects
sharecropper’s borrowed rooms
that were/are oven-warm with love.

we know you well

before your coming
we stroked your tight-skinned young faces
we touched the center of your tears
we stretched your tender muscles into smiles
we danced like African queens to the rhythm of
your joys
we blended the chords of your symphony song
and we chartered the trajectory of your dreams
across the heavens

like meteors knowing their destination
your dreams will light up the darkness
and from their cradles
flowers will bloom

we know you well

black women before us
who were daughters of black women
who were daughters of black women
who were sisters of sisters
black women
African women
the womb of civilization

taught us to breathe in your breath
to stay alive for you
to tighten the drum for you
to open the books for you
to hand the gavel to you
to move the pen for you
to give the world to you

and your women’s hands
must change it

we know you well

you have come to find the answers
we give only the questions

you have come to begin your planting season
we will place your hands in the soil

you must dig
you must plant
you must till
you must harvest
the fullest yield
of your blackness
your womanness
your genius
and pass it on


black women
our sisters
all sisters
all people

whom you must
anoint to fly.

-Gloria Wade-Gayles


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