Sobonfu was an African healer
-a keeper of the rituals of Dagara—
rituals of preparing and healing
mind, body, spirit
You went to her with my letters.
You carried my pain in envelopes and journals.
And that alone cannot reveal enough how much I love you.
You combined our written grief
and went to her, placing and meditating
at the altars. Whispering through tears for
me to find my strength. For me to heal.
For you to heal. Heal from the madness
we had endured.
Heal from the sores this world
bit into us.
You were never as afraid of the world
I felt so swallowed up in.
awkward and gangly on our bikes,
out in the woods and lost on highways,
jumping trains and night swimming.
The world was in our teeth.
You eventually took off, I’d heard.
And it was around the same time that we both
buckled and kicked under the pressure
of our lives—I in a mental ward, and you
in a spider-infested room in Naples,
having made your way
there on a cross-country trek.
We found out walls that crumble inside
having nothing to do with where you are
or how you build, but who laid the mortar.
We were both fearless,
what frightened us was ourselves.
In the dark corners across the globe from each other
facing down our hells in shacks and hospitals,
I read your elegant graffiti you wrote to me in a rush,
and I was there hovering
over your breaking heart
as you held mine.
See, you started living
from the outside in—
you grabbed that great big
old world in your arms,
squeezing it until you hugged
I went from the inside out—
bleeding out the infection with
my own scalpels, turning the history
of my past in my hands, changing my
narrative to coding so that I might
pick it apart and rewire. So that
I might finally see I am
the deep-seeded refusal
of their script.
In your pain, you embraced mine.
You shared your journey
with someone like me–
my chest hurts as I write this.
Some kind of force out there
caught us without
and as we grow into the women
we have designed, I
believe we never lost them—our
constellations to each other.
I shall map my way in this world
their imprints in the paths
and valleys of story,
a constant state of spreading
the sentence so that I might see.
your heart is a clear song–the notes
carrying you across the borders
you won’t limit yourself to,
guiding you toward yourself, bending music
in the hearts of people you meet.
In your sharing,
in your making room for me
at the altars you spent yourself at-
it is that love that made our letters in your hands
charts to forgiveness.