Finish It! #19: Reading the Revolution

Finally everything seemed to fall in places. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt so happy and excited. Finally! She couldn’t stop smiling. What a wonderful day it was.

She sat on a bench in Center City Park—a plot of grass and fountains surrounded by office buildings and banks in the middle of downtown—licking the melted strawberry ice cream from the waffle cone, her hand, and her wrist, and reading an anthology of poetry.

She ran her fingertips along the edges of the crisp pages, reciting the poems of her favorite African American poets, their lines etched in stone, depicting her heritage. Narrating her past, her present. Revealing her legacy. She read the names of ancestors who paved the road on which she strolled freely. Phillis Wheatley, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Claud McKay, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Lucille Clifton, Yusef Komunyakaa, Rita Dove.

And then, on page 182, her name, printed in serif, carved into history. Her contribution to the next generation’s education of themselves. She pursed and spread her lips as she channeled the voice from the page, spoke aloud the words so white-collar businessmen stepping over her extended legs as they race to their offices could hear. She is a black woman. She exists. She is present.

She stood, held the book above her head, blocking the sun, as if offering it up so that God could bless it and feed the multitudes.


Written for Finish It! #19.

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