You are fourteen,
and despite the childish laughter—
the one smoother 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,
or ring the wrong doorbell.
Certain histories won’t let you forget the present
or permit childhood to take advantage
of your fingertips.
Responsibilities follow you home
in warm booties, blankets, and prophecies.
If you had known that your existence
would give birth to a movement,
long before your feet hit the ground.
Before your mother’s pelvis
danced against your father’s,
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 for this?
That you had the freedom 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 self.