Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Black Dandelion

Age four— Witnessed my first mow down

Twinkling ground stars, cut by a murderous lawn mower

Feeling the blade, I fell, curled like a snail in grief

 

12 full moons folded into Spring — Perennial promises prevailed

Bees celebrated return of dandelions in a skirt of twirling, yellow bliss

Flowering bouffant mirrored my spiky little afro

Jagged edged “lion’s tooth” leaves paid tribute to my snag-a-tooth smile

Me and my freedom fighting flowers frolicked to survive the

scissoring, up-digging, poisoning

Warning Signs hovered like low hanging clouds:

No Blooming Allowed; Blossoms Will be Prosecuted

These brave plants grew just for me

Grew in spite of a society that favored a monochromatic landscape

 

1965— Mr. Brother Malcolm X was assassinated, big word for a pre-kindergartner.

I was convinced he must have been a dandelion, Reverend King too,

and the Johnson boy who lived one turn down the street, that way.

The Johnson boy was shot by the police for growing in a monochromatic landscape.

 

Training Wheels Off—Bike riding across insecure cement, I peddled the bumpy path

waving solidarity to each surviving, sunburst noggin,

each fulfilling the promise to ornament lawns and flourish souls with lemon drop hope

 

Dandelions bare art of

endurance and escape

transforming into pearl puffs

floating with ephemeral intention

carrying the spirit of the weed.

 

13 Full moons faded into July — “I am a proud weed!”

 

Yes, I declared that shocking proclamation standing in the pulpit on Youth Sunday

Vernon Chapel A.M.E. Church

I added to my speech on David and Goliath

my impromptu improvisation of Dandelion Dogma:

 

“We are Black Dandelions who will NEVER be destroyed.

We grow the power of goodness for generations into the future!”

 

I yet remember the hat framed faces of the pious, amused and mortified.

Credit


Copyright © Semaj Brown. This poem originally appeared in Bleeding Fire! Tap the Eternal Spring of Regenerative Light (Health Collectors LLC, 2019). Used with permission of the author.

Author


Semaj Brown

Semaj Brown was born in Detroit, Michigan. A poet, author, playwright, and educator, she was named the first poet laureate of Flint, Michigan, in 2019. In 2021, she received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.

Date Published: 2019-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/black-dandelion