Outside: A Poem

The sun is shining over the flowers my grandfather planted. They’re still growing, long after he died in 1995.

One of my goals for 2016 is to write a new spoken word poem every month. Here’s February’s poem.

We can breathe again, out here in the open.
Drink in lemonade sunlight
because each one of us has faced so much dark.
Right now my journey can be described by a Taylor Swift song,
and I’m okay with that.
The world I once lived in
was clearly defined by words like
good and bad,
light and darkness,
believers and unbelievers.
If you were not for us, you were against us,
and criticism of the church meant betrayal.
One of my roommates who grew up like I did
couldn’t even wear gray clothing,
gray was not in our vocabulary
because gray was not supposed to exist.
Anyone who lived in the gray was shunned
because they were really black and just didn’t know it yet.
But life, this life has so much color.
I lost my greyscale sunglasses somewhere behind me,
and now I can see the full spectrum.
Sometimes I’m still finding my coordinates,
and this road is nothing like what they told me it would be.
So some days, I will still ask you:
“Are we out of the woods yet?”
because I’m afraid to believe your answer is true.

They told me my emotions were evil,
that the numbness in my soul was the sacrifice my God required,
they took away my oxygen.
It’s a daily renewal,
this learning to inhale again
when you were nearly dead inside.
You don’t understand what safety is
until that first time your heart knows it,
and there will still be days when we shiver at shadows,
because the darkness can only fade, not be forgotten.
I cracked open
and shattered into hundreds of shards, scattered,
and yet I am finding my pieces.
I no longer have words to describe my doctrine,
my theology is like waves down at the gulf shore
tumultuous, yet cyclical
murky, but shimmering
and when the tide catches me,
I can’t tell you how far down I am.
My religion is complicated,
a living fire always melting the ice
until I can feel my heartbeat in my fingertips.
I embrace your newborn freedom
while I exult in my own.
One day I know that they will see all of us
as a kaleidoscope of stained glass windows
because we could not be broken.

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