On Joy and Sorrow
Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the reassure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
Outside the Door
I SAT IN THE WARDROBE WITH A CHRISTMAS
DONUT IN HAND
AND LEARNED TO TIE MY SHOELACES IN SILENCE
DECORATED ORANGES WITH DIANTHUS SPICE
AND RED BANDS
HANG FROM THE CEILING LIKE PERFORATED
THAT’S HOW I REMEMBER KINDERGARTEN
THE OTHERS WERE LOOKING FORWARD TO
BUT I WAS JUST AS SCARED OF HIM
AS I WAS OF MY FATHER
The Belief in Obeah
for Ras Biko
The moth that enters
your house at night is a grudge
that somebody is holding
against you. It half-sits, bothered
by your light and the roof
over your head. It spreads
its small evening wherever
it lands, over the things
you love most. A dark tent
of dark intentions.