WIP: questions for lauryn

by pronounced "ahhh" like a sigh

I’ve been working on a poem for Lauryn Hill for almost 2 years and I could never get it together. I was letting way too many of the articles and gossip influence the content and I needed to remember what I felt and why. But still I’d look at it and hate and try again and hate it. Last week, I deleted the whole thing. It just wasn’t going to happen. Yesterday, I read this http://warsanshire.blogspot.com/2009/12/questions-for-miriam.html and it was inspired by my kindred, @caitsmeissner’s poem for Yusef Komunyakaa which you can watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKy3dHBFVVo and the first stanza just spilled out. This afternoon (because I hit my book deadline 2 days early. Yay me!) I started again and this happened. I like it. It’s not perfect but none of my writing ever is. I’m going to edit it as time goes on and I’ll post the edits but I like how rough and raw it is now. It’s hella long. Sorry. I wanted it all out so I could take it all back. Or… I just wanted it hella long…




PS. Please don’t compare it to warsan or caits. They did something with words that I don’t even understand. It took on some other world shape and form. I’m still trying to catch my breath.

where did you go, Lauryn?

when you gathered your treasures and left us
did you cradle your bulbous, translucent heart
in promise and protection?
did you place the most sacred bits
beneath your tongue?
swath yourself in kindness and peace

at long last, lauryn?
are you at peace?

or are you still running?
still searching for the everything and
nothing that life promised you?

Should we stop searching for you?
stop chanting for a triumphant return
should we be building a business of forgetting?
have you forgotten us?

do you know that we hunt for clues
beneath break beats?
press play on scratched and cracked
hoping to rediscover reason etched in your inhale

is it ok to miss you?
you spoke our fears and hurts and loves and life
into song
but we barely knew you

is that why you left?

why you chose this solitary heartbreak
when your words created sister circles
everywhere they were played

is it ok to miss you?
miss you like my girls
wish we never traded up for this
grown woman attacking our bones
do you know the nights our bodies
swayed and bucked
ex-factor wrestling sobs from our throats
Do you want us to release you into the ocean?
take our pleading and leave you be?

where are you Lauryn?

what do you tell the night when
even the stars beg for your return?
how many millions singing your songs as
lullaby keep you awake?
who soothes you to bed?

warms you?
holds you rock steady and glass shell?
like so many of us,
are you your only comfort and catastrophe?

how often do you cry?
how many times have you wailed a siren song
bent like beckoning into your chest?
Do you know that we hear you?
often when the wind blows a cold too frigid to be
an honest winter, i swear i hear your heartbeat
as thunder
where is the relief of rain?

who holds you, lauryn?
who presses your aching ribs into their side
who has your lungs?

can you breathe where you are, lauryn?
Where are you?
do you know about the babies like Siwe
whose pain splits her open
chin to ankle
do you know how her mother longs for one last verse
one hidden track to hum as healing to her baby girl?

is that why you left us, Lauryn?
was it just too much?
these bits of flesh flung at you
did you hate how we wrapped ourselves
anaconda grip around your throat
then demanded you speak for us?
were you exhausted from all the parts of you we took?
the skin we clumsily reattached as hugs from strangers?

how can we ever repay you?

God, Lauryn, do you hate us?
hate how we threw your music back on your face
mined your sadness and regret for echoes
do you hate how we ached in unison?

did you want to be left alone?
were you tired of all these strangers claiming
love and solidarity?

We were like vampires, weren’t we, Lauryn?
But you were family You were us
You were for us
brown girls that bled billie’s blue all over
brooklyn concrete
and atlanta asphalt
and dallas pavement
and compton and soweto
and philly’s south street and mogadishu

i can’t help but feel you suffocate beneath
this thing you built for us a decade ago
what have you built for yourself?

is that why you left?

left us to do this life thing with our own
urging us to build our own songs
without someone singing a “me too” into the night for us
Must we stretch our own kaleidoscope hearts?
for the men who refuse to love us back?
refuse to see us?
refuse to wear this cloak of symphony we weave for them?

is that why you left?
so you can forget and remember
and forget and remember

how can we ever repay you?

full lipped and beautiful
you reflected us at our most celestial
reminded us that at our worst, we are still gold and magic

who sends that shiver of understanding down
your spine?
Do you remember?

where did you go, lauryn
can we apologize for picking at your bones
playing your pain for our pleasure
would you return to us then?
Would you come back so we could love you properly?
without asking you to hand us your tongue?
can you forgive us for not asking after your heart?
for not being concerned about how often you wrote our truths?
How much that must have broken you

we just wanted to love you
maybe we held you so tight you disappeared into our backs
and this selfish longing for your return
this wish for one more fevered song
outline these adult woes with your cadence
with your heartsong

but you are just a honeyed goddess
just a fucking a human being
a woman who threw her heart against the moon
and prayed that someone would catch

maybe we should have asked,
lauryn, how can we help?