Best Believe This is Free

by London Pinkney

          • Best believe I’m only alive in places
            where women-and-the-gurls laugh freely.
            Their joy in the Key of Safety
            signals that this
            is one of the few places we are free.

            I’m talkin’ free-free.
                        talkin’ they-can’t-even-apologize-because-they-ain’t-had-the-chance-to-do-it-free.

            We live in a stilt house
            lined with oleander.
            On Sundays we make tea from its blossoms —
            pink petals strained through sweaty stockings —
            for the Black Brunch Brigade, the Niggarati,
            for folks who got us feelin’
            some kinda way, folks who
            use the word niggardly or female,
            and that nigga,
                                               James.
            Yes, here
            is one of the few places
            I do not have to carry myself
            in a brown paper bag,
            rolled up, crunched up,
            and tucked behind crossed arms. Here
            on our freshly sanded stoop,
            I open my bag and
            I share my pralined self.
                                                 Would you like one, I say
            knowing full well the gurls’
            ears, hearts, and mouths are fixed
            to enjoy me
            and my company.
            I tell them
            I want to arrest all the trees
            in the South for conspiracy
            and manslaughter,
            and they hmm-hmm.
            There’s no need to make sense— we are
            the sense and the dollar and the moment.
            We be bad bitches. We be being.
                                                                                                      Always.
            We converse with the same intent
            folks have when they skip stones:
            for the satisfaction of the ripple
            and quality time
            to shit on that nigga,
                                            James.

London Pinkney is a writer. She is an MFA candidate at San Francisco State University. Pinkney is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Ana. She is the recipient of the Joe Brainard Fellowship and the Marcus Second Year Scholarship. Her work can be found in Mirage #5 / Period[ical],OmniVerse, Sula Review, and elsewhere.