I remember when I was black

Serengeti Sunrise

Serengeti Sunrise (Photo credit: tshantz)

The colour was orange and rich tones of earth
Open plains and a lonely tree
A small village hut made of natural stuff.
The fireplace smoked
We made semolina in a big iron pot
Melodious songs of womanhood we sang
and danced and ran free.
We walked with grace and rhythm
Strong-bodied, curve-backed people of my kind
Where are you now?

The sky is clear, the weather warm
I am a solitary seven-year-old against this landscape
With smiling eyes in a mischevious face.
Tiny circles of African hair press close to my scalp.
My pink-soled, chocolate-coated body is wrapped in metres of burnt orange
And I move more freely than in suburban clothes.
Pride and playfulness affect my stance
And though I am a child alone, I am not fearful
For this is where I am myself

Although I have never visited Africa, for as long as I can remember I have held this vision. I wrote it down when I became fearful that I would forget. I know now that isn’t possible, leave one brain cell behind and erase the rest, this image will persist. 

This was originally buried at the bottom of this post from last year on Go Home, You Black Bitch which at least three, but probably no more than four people have seen.


6 thoughts on “I remember when I was black

  1. Swarn Gill says:

    This is a beautiful vision. Home is definitely the biggest theme here in this poem. I wonder if having a strong vision of one home prevents one from making a home elsewhere. Or perhaps there are multiple times and places where we feel a sense of home. For me it’s a person. One of the first big compliments I gave my wife before we were married, even before I said that I loved her, was that she felt like home to me. Wherever we are as long as we are together I feel a sense of home. I am thankful everyday. 🙂


    • jamborobyn says:

      This is a yearning for a home, for acceptance, for it not to be shameful to be different. This vision is the key to the door where who-I-can’t-be lives.


      • Swarn Gill says:

        I understand. I wasn’t trying to be critical or anything, just inquisitive. 🙂 The feeling of home is an important one and you deserve it more than anyone I know.


      • jamborobyn says:

        Sorry, my response appeared a bit defensive, but hey that child is only 7, and it wants to be proud of all that it is and proud of all that it will become. It has something to offer and it is waiting patiently for it’s time whilst dancing around under an imaginary African sky. Home.


      • Swarn Gill says:

        And that is the beauty of this poem. When I read it, I can see you there. And it fills me with happiness to see you feel at home. 🙂


  2. […] I remember when I was black […]


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