You are fourteen.
And despite the infantile laughter
the one gentler than the fresh coat of love
on a baby’s skin
your mothers must warn you
that certain skin tones won’t allow you
to flash open innocence.
You are not allowed to purchase candy,
eat ice cream
tell jokes, jog
or fall in love with cream-colored coffee.
Or show your strength in the open hallways of street corners.
Do not point your skin in the direction of authority.
Do not showcase your power in the open air, my sons.
Do not boast in the black pearls radiating from your smiles, my daughters.
Hide your treasured possessions
until it is time for them to be fulfilled.
Certain histories won’t let you forget the present.
Or permit childhood to take advantage of your fingerprints.
Responsibilities follow you home in warm booties, blankets,
If you had known that your existence would give birth to a movement.
If you had known that your delivery would echo the sounds of captivity
long before your feet hit the ground.
Before your mother’s pelvis danced against your fathers,
and his kiss brushed upon her skin.
Did they tell you that you were born for this?
Did they tell you about the cries of Israel
when they reached into the heavens
like hands just as heavy as your parent’s hearts
knocking against the doors of heaven
because too many of their prayers ended in question marks?
Did they tell you that you were destined to die?
That you had final movement stamped to your backside
like a receipt back to the soil.
Like your fathers had to spit their seed into a melody
an Amazing Grace and Birmingham Sunday.
Carving its lyrics and your names into the history books
of our yet unborn.
And while you rest,
they march scripture on the bed
of your misunderstood.