I remember her like this
Black hair, nappy and natural
Wrapped in a gaily colored scarf.
The way her body moved when she spoke
As graceful as a pirouette
As powerful as a hurricane.
The way her laugh would start in her belly
Move through her body
And shake the whole room.
The way her voice would
fill with passion
When talking about teaching
Or the flute
How she always found the brilliance
Regardless of the mess left by someone else.
How her eyes would brighten with fury
At instances of injustice
How she would rage at the racism, sexism and queerphobia
That claimed the lives of those she called Family
How she would rant about the brokenness
Of America’s Public School System
And still pour her heart
Into trying to save just ONE brown child
From that monstrous machine that would grind us to dust
And jail the entrails.
But I also remember her like this
Body ravaged by the harsh toxins of Chemo
Hands, pale and peeling
Hair, graying and thinning
Eyes, fearful and sad.
How she showed up to teach every day that
She wasn’t felled by that life-prolonging poison.
How she lay in the hospital bed
Mind racing faster than the Hadron Collider and yet
Impotent to speak
Breathing labored harder than the contractions of revolutions and yet
Holding on to life with every last ounce of power left in her.
She told me once
I thought I would die alone
I took her hands into my own
(They were already cold)
And I told her
You saved this brown child and you will
Never be alone.
I remember her like the warrior she was.