Angel C. Dye
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
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
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.”