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Angel C. Dye

Soft Life

Black Girl Breakdown

is different from Regular Breakdown:

           complicated by carrying on

           while carrying a load,

           being solid for everyone but your fragile self,

           Strong Black Woman when you want to be weak

           and willowy,

           shattering glass ceilings when you are fragments,

           pulling it together and putting on a brave face

                        knowing you cannot parade your pieces,

           belittled and gaslit but grinning and bearing it

           while choking on a scream,

           putting A Good Cry on your calendar and

           postponing Falling Apart until your schedule is clearer,

           texting your therapist to pencil you in

           for neverending inner work,

           tired and steely inside but tender outside because

           you are manifesting a Soft Life;

but right now,

you just want to lie down

           and take your time rising.

If you are afraid of never falling in love

to think love elusive when you are alive

is emptied energy

a trick of the mind to trudge up every tragedy

paid for with tears and each letdown of heart’s


look how you flare and flower

feel depth despite danger

fan the fragrance of yourself

over every rancid remembrance

touch tenderly despite sting

gulp big even through bitterness

let your loose ends trail

although they are sometimes stepped on

this fury of will is proof

that fear is fallacy—

love can never be far away

while you


Sweetening & Making

On a sunny summer afternoon, the swelter

of the kitchen heated by a 400-degree oven

is worth the sweat.

           Craving is a cry for care,

           so I nurture my need,

strain syrupy juice from canned peaches

saving some to simmer them in,

add a mound of sugar without measuring—

           sweetness should never be contained

           or shared in small doses.

Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg, splash vanilla,

slow cook the soft crescents in thick brown brine

until they boil.

           Nothing makes sense scattered and separate,

           but combined, flavor and fragrance emerge.

Spoon fruit and goodness into a buttered pan

bordered with storebought pie crust

           because knowing when you need help

           is a life skill all by itself.

Smooth the contents of the pan into a single

layer then lattice long strips of crust over the peaches,

           breaking only one and pinching its pieces

           back into place—albeit imperfectly.

Basic basketweave pattern is perfect for this

baked good for one.

           Simplicity does not mean less

           special; it means real.

Another dusting of sugar and cinnamon tops

the confection before I set it in the oven for finishing.

           Later, I will cut into my cobbler while it is still warm,

           sliding a spatula to the very bottom so as not to leave

           a single layer behind.

          (The crust is arguably its best attribute.)

A scoop-and-a-half of vanilla bean ice cream will melt

into a puddle of white speckled with its own spices and mine,

           and the first spoonful to touch my tongue

           will remind me why I gathered sweat on my brow to begin with:

I needed to know my hands could still make beauty.

Angel C. Dye is a poet and scholar of African American literature from Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas by way of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Most recently her work has appeared in Allium Journal, The Langston Hughes Review, and Musing Publications. She is currently coupling her Ph.D. studies in English with unapologetic joy, community, and faith. She aims to discover, as Audre Lorde explains, “the words [she does] not yet have.”

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