Coal

 

Coal
I
Is the total black, being spoken
From the earth’s inside.
There are many kinds of open.
How a diamond comes into a knot of flame  
How a sound comes into a word, coloured  
By who pays what for speaking.
 
Some words are open
Like a diamond on glass windows
Singing out within the crash of passing sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
In a perforated book—buy and sign and tear apart—
And come whatever wills all chances
The stub remains
An ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
Breeding like adders. Others know sun
Seeking like gypsies over my tongue
To explode through my lips
Like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Some words
Bedevil me.
 
Love is a word another kind of open—
As a diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am black because I come from the earth’s inside  
Take my word for jewel in your open light.

That poem is a favourite of mine & I have been thinking about it as I take the train to uni. Written by Audre Lorde, she was a Caribbean-American poet & feminist essayist. She died of liver cancer when we was 58 after a 14 year battle with breast cancer during which she suffered a mastectomy. To me this poem is strong & I think she would have been a hell of a person to know. She was proud of her heritage, of being a woman & most wondrous of all she was able to put that down on paper so that I might understand her many years later. She said, of herself, that she was “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, and poet.” She consistently fought against racism in feminist thought & I feel she succeeded. Like Lorde I believe feminism is not just limited to having an affect on women, it has an affect on all people, as does racism & if you deny the differences in all women & men you only reinforce patriarchy in a negative way. Suffering is not a condition universal to women, or lesbians or black people. It is something each person undergoes throughout their lives for many reasons. Why add feminism to the list of things that oppress women if you can be inclusive about its affects instead of exclusive.
 
The train is about to get to Adelaide & there is a woman sitting near me trying to read what I am writing.  I am in a good mood today so I will excuse it. But only today.

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