“Middle Ground” is part of the collection Lead Me to Life: Voices of the African Diaspora. Read the introduction to the collection here.
With your chocolate eyes and caramel skin
You hide the bruises of an unkind world so well
The way they pet your curls and pay you less
Their snub of your nose and jealousy of your curves
Have you learned yet to navigate their systems?
Have you learned to play their games?
These waters are treacherous
And filled with so much blood
Ancient chains on elders’ bones
Unwilling, unrelenting, testify
Bondage is the only middle ground
The gasp of the deep
Shares the silent watery screams, Dear one,
Of the brokenhearted
Grant your pounding heart a moment
Your steps may falter in a world that blames you
When your skin is the color of the rape
The product of centuries of hands
Ripping the resources from your soul
You have permission to reel
As the veil is uncovered