“SBW” by Ralonda Simmons

A safe Black woman is a chalk outline,
something not experienced
only sketched out
in popular imagination.
She’s static, held in place by history
and low expectations.
But what do you expect
when you were supposed to die
years ago?
When your granny sat you at her knee

did she tell you to dream/
or to lie still
as they mispronounce your name
on purpose?
A safe black woman
may be an oxymoron, a paradox,
something truly unnamed
not to be uttered.
Just keep your back strong
Don’t drop that shit
Don’t let them see
Your light, not safe

In these winds, won’t be blown away.
A black woman, safe
impossible according to they –

but you know what I say?
Live brightly. Here’s your permission.
Gather the dust
you’re left with, turn it to clay,
sculpt your best self, do all but diminish
that light, black

shine on sunlight,
magical, vibrant
move in your awkward, human ways.
Shine like the gold you are,
like the star you are.
A safe black woman

can undoubtedly exist in her skin
by focusing on the light within.

-*

Ralonda Simmons knows the life-saving and renewing properties of poetry. Since the age of fourteen, when she started writing earnestly in her walk-in closet to deal, Ralonda has viewed poetry as a way to illustrate the pain and beauty of lie, as well as its ability to serve as a safe method of catharsis during times of difficulty. Ms. Simmons has many interests but always comes home to the peace and power in poetic words of the poetry community, locally and worldwide, through space and time. She also calls Centennial, CO her home and is almost done with graduate school. She wants to be a busy digital nomad when she grows up.

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