This Little Light of Mine Speaks

Poem arranged into sheet music scaling from whole notes to eight notes. Music notes appear directly above each line of the poem's text, which reads as follows: Remember little girl. It was the deacon—ess who taught you the side-eye. Only then like a lesson theft from Eve did you see your other self reflected as a bastard pew through the eyes of those who pretend—ed to see. Say it to the mirror: I was glared into existence yes, and that was when your voice crowned— not to be mistake—n for gold or glint, and you understood the consequence of open, how unruly how un—child of—God—like: you with the flexed back n ’ the shoulder bop n’ the lop—sided pigtail, a metro—no—me swingin’ a sweet tic in your ear. You out—grew your own shadow, thought you could lead the choir to light four feet be—neath the belt of faith, absolute in your wrong—ness. Only then did your world pay attention.

Copyright © 2020 by Crystal Valentine. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 24, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.