Swirl: For Women’s History Month

Swirl: For Women’s  History Month

Princess Café au Lait Barbie and Prince Ginger Ken couldn’t do what we have done
United two families 
The day we were married and our hands met
We were Black and White touching
All these years together
And I have never written you a poem

Too busy loving — I guess — to write about it

But as I watch Meghan and Harry walk the tight wire between 
despair and disillusionment
I marvel at what we have done with the love that we have brought into this world
Revolutionary hearts beating revolutionary rhythms
And our breath exhaling revolutionary words
Revelatory hearts surviving the “for better and for worse’
Inhaling inspiration from the events of the day
And our own lives

As fearless as veteran warriors
And as ardent as midwives bringing new life into this world
We are not a prince and a princess
We are a King and a Queen

Think new thoughts by not eating the foods of childhood
From food you get mind
Both our families amazed because we make our pancakes from a mixture of five flours
Adding both cinnamon and ginger powder to the batter
The alchemy of mixing foods 
And of mixing peoples
Let your table be an altar and all foods be sacramental 
Because if you know how to mix
The outcome is always astonishing

We cooked mountains of vegetables from a Wisconsin garden  
And used more onion and garlic then either of our families had ever eaten at one time
Food cooked in houses that didn’t know 
The smell of clarified butter dancing with cumin and coriander
Brown and gold touching 
We watched our food disappear 

Everyone always asks for the recipes
But the alchemy of mixing is hard to learn 
And requires both artistry and skill

You have to cook the way you live
But Meghan and Harry didn’t cook their own food
And they planned for the wedding day but not for the marriage

Start the day with conversations and endless cups of chai
The only ritual we do daily, regularly, and sincerely 
Fresh ginger, peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, mint and black tea
Everyone always asks for the recipe
But the alchemy of mixing is hard to learn 
And requires both artistry and skill

Smash the cake into my face at the wedding party
Or, the women in my family will think you weak
You took me at my word 
Your Lucille Ball to my Desi Arnaz
Devils food cake covering my face as my Mothers laughed 
Punctuating their guffaws with
“Oh no she didn’t!”

They called you “Teena Marie” when you pierced your nose 
To commemorate your mother’s death
And my sister called you sister
Our revelatory hearts — again — surviving the better and worse

Maybe Meghan should have smashed cake into Harry’s face
You have to make space for yourself 
If you want to live unconventionally

So Swirl
Swirl down through the Middle Passage
And slavery
Swirl through “HAVE ME MANDINGO!”
Through Birth of a Nation and the Klan
Swirl through JIm Crow
The Civil Rights Movement
And marches on Washington
Swirl through Blaxploitation Movies 
Through Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman
Through Baps, Bohos, and Buppies
Swirl through  Obama 
and through Kamala
Swirl through Black Lives Matter
Swirl through the Zoom age replacing words on the printed page

Marriage IS a political statement

Swirl Helen Pitts and Fredrick Douglas;
Jessie Walmisley and  Samuel Coleridge-Taylor;
Etta Terry Duryea and Jack Johnson 

Swirl Louisa Matthews and Louis George Gregory;
Josephine Baker and Jean Lion;
Ruth Williams and Seretse Khama 
You were Meghan and Harry before Meghan and Harry 
Were a gleam in their parents eyes

Swirl Pearl Bailey and Louie Bellson;
Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving — and thank you;

Swirl Grace Lee Boggs and and James Boggs;
Swirl Billy Porter and Adam Smith;
Swirl George Takei and Brad Altman Takei;

Swirl for the Wakandas that have already been and are yet to come
Love in Black and White
Love in Lavender
Rainbow Love
Black Love
Brown Love
And all The  loves that now dare to speak their names

This is for Hettie Cohen and her husband Leroi Jones before he became Amiri Baraka 
For Lena Horne and Lennie Hayton
Diana Ross, Robert Ellis Silberstein, and Arne Næess: 
Two scoops for Miss Ross!

And all of the other swirl couples too numerous to mention
Which is the point.

Walk seven times around the sacred fire with me and make a promise with each circumambulation
For earth, water, fire, air and space.
For self-actualization 
and for transcendence

Wed on the day winter becomes spring 
On a Venus’ day
And at the hour of the unconquerable
Our friends asked what the attire would be 
And we said:
Come as you will be for the rest of our lives 
And the lifetimes to come
Everyone always asks for the recipe
But the alchemy of mixing is hard to learn 
And requires both artistry and skill

Keep thinking:
It can be stopped at the boarder
Or with gated communities
It can be lynched out of existence
It can be gerrymandered
Or put into interment camps 
Or stifled by anti-miscegenation laws 
With 7 states still requiring racial disclosures on marriage certificates 

No one is coming to get you
We are you!

Red hair and creamy skin are genetically recessive 
Which is why they asked how dark the children would be
Meghan and Harry — a reversed living Bridgerton

That the answers to our questions and concerns lie on a the path less traveled 
Is — perhaps — the greatest fear of people who think 
That salt, black pepper, and sugar 
Are the only spices there are.


By Heidi Lindemann and Michael Perry

(Image Credit: Sol Lewitt: “Swirl Platter”)