Prayer for Assata

Prayer for Assata

By Walidah Imarisha

Face wiped clean of age
Cheekbones you could fall off of
Body that flows like water over worn rocks
Dreadlocks splayed out and open
Trailing the scent of soothing aloe and sage

I wish Assata
Many beautiful lovers
Lovers who smell
Of earth
Warmed by the sun
Rather than despair that stinks
Like urine-stained tenement halls

She has known love
On the run
As sweetly intense
And dangerously fragile
As life at the barrel of the gun

Kiss twin scars directly beneath
Her breats
Where two bullets
Are nestled still –
Sleeping infants.

I wish her lovers
With mango pulp between their teeth
And grape-stained hands
That soak into her

A lover with shango in the hips
And the other orishas under the tongue
Their love fried platanos for breakfast,
And freshly cut coconut before bed

That lean over her body
As hands move
Reading signs and songs
Etched in bark and cloth and skin
Praying dancing worshipping
The length of her arms
And the heft of her flesh
Cowry shells pressed hot
Between two bodies with ancient souls

I wish Assata
Who lets her be
Simply solely wholly
Comrade mother neighbor
That strong limbed sista
Who can sure move those thighs
At a house party
Not a face on a wanted poster
Not public enemy number one
Joanne Chesimard
Dead or alive
One million dollar bounty on her head
To this day

Thunder storms
Beat palm trees
And peel Che Guevara posters
Off the sides of Havana buildings
In the middle of the night
The screams of
Comrades pull her dreads back
To lick her neck
Tongues dripping defeat
Until they deafen her

But silence scars as well
Wounds left by over two years
Of solitary confinement
Of only hate-filled guards
Day in and day out
Day in and day out
Day in and day out
Days where she forgot what a kind word was
When she almost forgot she could speak
The wounds of silence
Silence can cut deeper than a machete
Cane stalks bleeding
Sugar blood

In prison
It was fugitive love
They were slaves
Catching a taste of sweetness
Bore fruit ripe and swollen
This child
Of hope and wings
Of water and wind
Of thundering bars and stinging darkness
Let us caress freedom
And kiss it deeply on its full lips
Let us be human for an hour
For these snatched seconds
Let us remember
What we look like in loving eyes
And Assata always now look
Into loving eyes.