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Four Poems by Leslie M. Watson

Washington, D.C.

Leslie Watson Malachi
Leslie M. Watson is a poet and a political consultant. She grew up in Louisiana where she attended Southern University at Baton Rouge. She is a former student outreach coordinator for the National Abortion Rights Action League. She was a principal organizer for the passage through Congress of three abortion rights laws. She has been honored with the Young Woman of Achievement Award by the WIN organization. She lives in Washington, D.C.

As I Am ...

And she asked,
"Ain't I A Woman?"

Me, with my hair short, long, straight, kinky, nappy, curled
locked, braided, extended;
with my high collars, low collars, form fitting,
ill fitting, dress, skirt, pants;
with much behind, no behind, legs, thighs, hips
breast, cheeks, nose (narrow-broad), lips
(black-pink-red), brown skin,
red, yellow, white skin that is
soft, that is hard.

Me, with my strength, my weakness, my sex, laughter, tears, joys,
sorrows, convictions, confusion, beliefs, contradictions,
with my struggle-her struggle
head held high in front, in back, on line
confident-doubtful when I laugh, when I cry
when I need to scream in front, on line
yesterday, today, tomorrow.

Me covering your fears, embracing your power, your power!
And she asked in 1855, "Ain't I A Woman?"
And I'm asking in 1991 for acceptance
of me, of my individuality, cause
this is me - your sister, your woman
asking (demanding) from you,
demanding (demanding) from them


Dedicated to Women of Color (August 1990) and their Allies (March 1991), always with you, always with me.

Copyright 1991. All About Me a collection of poems by Leslie Marie Davis.

Miss Gracie

..and i thought about
Miss Gracie
all the way home
the smoothness of her
dark, black face
damp with tears
that had spilled out
of large beautiful eyes
of a color
yet unnecessary
all seeing and all knowing
and i thought about
Miss Gracie
all the way home
back to my safe place
at home, yesterday
when I was womanish
cause I wanted to be
a woman
one of those women
like her
whose lips smiled often
and on special occasions
so did those eyes
at home where I learned
so much from kitchen talk
bout being a woman
bout being black
bout being in a white world
bout praising a white God
bout trials and tribulations
bout asking for mercy
bout living with pain
bout being black
bout being a woman
Miss Gracie
my safe place is a home
in the spirit of women
like her
who survived in spite of ...

And the Cycle Began

"No sir, three times . . . "
It was not too late to go back
Streets cold, dark, quiet
my neighborhood
houses filled with them, white folks
lookin' outside, laughing at me
black girl following the star
toward freedom
shoes not right for running away
no coat
no plan
just a need for space
streets cold, dark, quiet
now unfamiliar
unfamiliar hands pulling on me
momma - baby
how did they know
and l felt safe, for a second
in a stranger's arms

(fuck that silent house where I was condemned for
respecting the real Queen, refusing to bow before the
impostor with blond hair and white skin who watched the
"king" strike me)

and he struck me
cause it was cold and time to sleep (forever)
two heads, four hands
scratching and biting
tearing and pulling
at me, inside me
before I kissed the gravel road.
street cold, dark, quiet
not my neighborhood
where I must have left my shoes, my pants
but who cares now
cause I must be dead
and angels do have black faces
"Miss you're gonna be alright"
"Can you tell us what happened?"
"What happened to you? Were you raped?"
"Yes . . . yes."
"Can you describe your attacker?"
"Miss . . . I'm sorry to put you through this but are you saying
you were attacked, raped, twice?"
"No sir, three times?

Thinking about Roe

... and she laid there
on that table
wrapped in what was once
a white sheet
gray, black, purple
with its own personality
hearing the sounds of the world
dogs barking
women laughing
was that a scream
was that me she asked
drawing her legs close
assuming, ironically,
a fetal position
suddenly aware of brown knees,
and her arms
with hair that never laid down

... and she laid there
on that table, afraid to move
to touch herself
her hair, her pubic hairs
that felt wet, sticky -
no - nasty
because he touched her there
on that table
where she wanted to cry
because he called her honey
because his nails were dirty

... and she sat up ... and the
white sheet
now gray, black, purple, and red
red with her blood
fell to the floor ...

We can never go back!

(copyright 1991, from "All About Me")

To my sisters and allies,
thinking about you in times such as these,
when our voices more than ever before must be heard!
Love, hugs, kisses.

Published in In Motion Magazine September 22, 1995.