Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Now You Can: An Open Letter To Elaiwe Ikpi



By BASSEY IKPI

Dear Elaiwe,

It is morning
the day after history was broken
and reborn
and your mother still carries the weight
of last evening
it is a slow dawning
precious few tears
to water stain these moments
the air is dry
crisp
less like November
more like the first of a rapid eternity
there is something that tastes like
possible languishing luxe on thick
tongue

the mist dormant behind
eyelids
the weight of years sliding
slowly over bones
the results came
real like
stone and flesh
and then he spoke
and one renegade tear traced
river down cheek
but there was no massive
flooding over
no great river of emotion
there was only calm
only the cool of extended exhale
only something stunning my evening into beauty
something like your future sun kissed and waiting

I remember how DC wailed,
the surreal echo and thump of collective heartbeats
I pumped my fist
screamed belly broken as the radio sang the news
lost in the celebration spilling through the streets
appreciated the car horns and cheering
participated in the flashing of headlights
smiles exchanged with strangers

but this was more than party for me
this was more than victory for my left leaning
this was not about my views on love
and choice
and war
and poverty
and blood
and death

and life
and law
and justice
and right
and wrong
not about the price of gas
or arguing policy
not about non believers
or winners
or losers
not about talking points
or hearts bleeding with compassion
and pride
of country
or people

this was about you, Elaiwe
remember holding you newborn and squirming
under a cloud of uncertainty
worried about the cliche
and statistic you faced
facing eviction and empty bank accounts
but it was your auntie who lifted you from me,
whispered to you words of hope
for the world you were entering
told you
the story of this man they called Obama
what his existence meant for yours
she held you in strength
And I know you were listening
because at 2 his face beaming from
newspapers and news report
would shake you into a hurricane of
chanting
and dancing
Obama
Obama
yes we can

you entered the world
around the same time this brown man decided
he had the audacity to be President
To hold highest office in this country that
still holds the weight of an enslaved people
people who look like you
like me
like us
a country that had problems with his name
a country that will one day stumble over yours
one that still mistakes boys with your face
for something other than precious
something other than beautiful
something point blank shot in the back
or hail of bullets raining like blood shower
not content to crush your spirit
they hunt and hover
shoot to kill

this same country
celebrates a black man today

but there is still so much work to be done
still injustice
still poverty
still love being legislated away
still babies brown eyed and curious like you
being bombed out of homes
and schools
and land
still broken families
and broken dreams
and broken bodies on sidewalks like
broken bottles
but starting now, there is a tunnel not a vacuum
there is a light
there is a thing called hope that sings
and dances with you
you will always know a Black man as president
and that is as good a beginning as any
no limitations
nothing short of death will hold you back
no missing piece that can't be spun into gold
there will only be a room full of endless to choose from
only the perfect shade of limitless sky

your grandfather believed
before it was popular
before it was real
because that's what grandpas do
they believe
believed in you when I feared he'd just be disappointed
believed in a President Barack Obama when most feared he'd just be disappointed
but every day
every bit of money and time and conversation
he believed
came to this country 30 years ago
for better life
for children
he believed
in the dreams and promise of this country
even when his back was bent broken cleaning America's excess
from sticky movie theatre floors
he believed
worked his way through college
collecting degree after degree
he believed
told he wasn't smart enough
or American enough
so often for so long
they had to switch to telling him he was too old
but still he believed
through every set back for one step forward
he believed
and when you came alongside Barack
he believed even more
last night his hope met his faith in reality
it was the happiest I'd ever seen him since he met you

So Elaiwe,
this is what your mother asks of you:
create a life worth celebrating
what threatens to claim and destroy you
love through them
trust that
trust that you have the tools to do what is good
and not what is easy
to love like your life depends on it
because it does
use it to guide you
Change the world because it's the right thing
to do
be a smiling revolutionary
keep joy in your heart and not a chip on your shoulder

when the world threatens to eat & attack
what's good in you
remember
the world celebrates a black man today
for his brilliance
for his resilience
for his possibility
for his diplomacy
and exceptional
handed him a river of trust and hope and faith and
said "We believe in you to help us through this. We believe
in us to hold you steady."
despite the broken
the wars that beat life from us
the babies who bleed
the men who bomb
this moment still looms large like
north star
like ancestors guide
like mama and grandpa's belief
in the life you will build
the parade in your honor
this life worth celebrating
this black man that became President
you brown boy who will follow his own footsteps
carve his own path in history
this is guiding light
this is you birthed in possibility

Your mother asks that you keep love in everything you do
keep you with everything you love
and continue chanting
dancing
laughing
smiling
growing
living
changing
Elaiwe Elaiwe
yes you can
yes you can

love always,
Your mama.

About our MBB Contributor:
Bassey Ikpi is a Nigeria-born, Oklahoma-bred, PG County-fed, Brooklyn-led writer/poet/neurotic. She’s half awesome, a quarter crazy and 1/3rd genius... the left over bit is a caramel creme center. She’s also the single mother of an amazing man-child, Elaiwe Ikpi. She kicks off her weekly talk show, Blacking It Up, featuring bloggers and political pundits discussing The Week in Blackness, tonight with co-host Elon James White. Tune in at 10 p.m. on Blog Talk Radio. And get more Bassey at basseyworld.com.

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5 comments:

  1. Beautiful. What an amazing day today, yes?

    ReplyDelete
  2. That was beautiful. I definitely have to tune into the show.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great letter! Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bassey--

    This was beautiful!! I really have to say this warmed my heart. And I can't wait 'til he reads it when he is an adult. and the tears started and failed to stop for me, right here:

    "no limitations
    nothing short of death will hold you back
    no missing piece that can't be spun into gold
    there will only be a room full of endless to choose from
    only the perfect shade of limitless sky"


    love love love!!

    ReplyDelete

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