Poetry

For A Phenomenal Woman

 

When the news of the death of Maya Angelou broke on my Timeline a few hours ago, I felt she looked awfully familiar. I googled her and I still couldn’t pinpoint where I’d seen her prior to now and then I remembered the movie, Tyler Perry‘s Madea’s Family Reunion. I remembered this gracefully ageless woman eloquently reciting one of her poems’ ”In And Out Of Time”. I remembered the emotions I felt just listening to the words of that poem. It touched me so much that I wondered how this woman could write with such depth and convey so much meaning in a simple and concise manner. I know how much I struggle to write poems with seemingly big vocabularies just so there’s an element of ambiguity so to speak but then, there’s this phenomenal woman writing in simple plain English. That for me is amazing. Her death and the rediscovery of her works has definitely challenged me.

RIP Maya Angelou. You’ll be missed. To honour her I’m gonna be reading and soaking myself in most of her works.

Here are two of my favourite poems, ”In And Out Of Time” and ”Still Rise”. Such powerful words.

In And Out Of Time

The sun has come.
The mist has gone.
We see in the distance…
our long way home.
I was always yours to have.
You were always mine.
We have loved each other in and out of time.

When the first stone looked up at the blazing sun
and the first tree struggled up from the forest floor
I had always loved you more.
You freed your braids…
gave your hair to the breeze.
It hummed like a hive of honey bees.
I reached in the mass for the sweet honey comb there….
Mmmm…God how I love your hair.

You saw me bludgeoned by circumstance.
Lost, injured, hurt by chance.
I screamed to the heavens….loudly screamed….
Trying to change our nightmares into dreams…
The sun has come.
The mist has gone.
We see in the distance our long way home.

I was always yours to have.
You were always mine.
We have loved each other in and out
in and out
in and out
of time.

You may write me down in history 
With your bitter, twisted lies, 
You may tread me in the very dirt 
But still, like dust, I’ll rise. 

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells 
Pumping in my living room. 

Just like moons and like suns, 
With the certainty of tides, 
Just like hopes springing high, 
Still I’ll rise. 

Did you want to see me broken? 
Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops. 
Weakened by my soulful cries. 

Does my haughtiness offend you? 
Don’t you take it awful hard 
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines 
Diggin’ in my own back yard. 

You may shoot me with your words, 
You may cut me with your eyes, 
You may kill me with your hatefulness, 
But still, like air, I’ll rise. 

Does my sexiness upset you? 
Does it come as a surprise 
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds 
At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history’s shame 
I rise 
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain 
I rise 
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, 
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. 
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear 
I rise 
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear 
I rise 
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, 
I am the dream and the hope of the slave. 
I rise 
I rise 
I rise.
How will I end without the deepest of them all?
Phenomenal Woman
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me. 
RIP ma’am.
EB.

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