• Ashley Imanë

Dear Polaris

Updated: Sep 28

It wasn’t until my back was against the cold,

dewy ground of the Great Lawn,

my burdens sinking into the soil,

eyes gleaming up at the constellations drawn,

laughter and smoke floating in the air,

my friends and I drinking without a care—

that I found the North Star, and I asked it a silent question,

and ten more thoughts struck the longer I stared.

10. I see you, the star my ancestors did. I know you see all the pain

that will never cease, that we’re forced to pay.

Three hundred years feels interminable, sixty a vacation,

and every year is distorted, yet unfortunately the same.

We’ve been surviving since birth and it’s all we’ve ever known,

I walk the same earth on which my ancestors have bled,

they danced, and sang, and ran when overseers rang.

Polaris, do you too cry when we’re left for dead?

9. Freedom is a concept I will never know.

It’s fighting for gold, but my blows never quake.

It smells like temptation, a ticking bomb,

a withheld explosion of choices I never get to make.

It’s intangible to me, a simple mystery I’ll never know the answer to,

a happy ending I can’t read.

But it’s there, without reach, a beautifully bronzed laurel wreath

only the white and privileged get to keep.

8. Who can I be without my constant switch of personality?

Without an adaption for white society to hire me?

I am scared I will accidentally say ‘yo’ to a gun,

because my back will be on the ground due to hostility.

I’m the one who needs to code-switch, I’m the one who knows racism still exists,

I’m the one who is surprisingly articulate, I’m the one who must persist,

I’m the one who is forced to change in a land that spills blood,

when it comes to equality, I’m not the one who resists.

7. We sleep in darkness, yet darkness never sleeps.

With a callous grin, they’ll snuff us out before we reach any dreams.

There is a seat at a throne, I can never claim

My life in waiting to be reaped.

I am David at the foot of a billion Goliaths.

I am a doe, in a forest of hidden wolves that want me to subdue,

I am a mouse in a field of lions that salivate for the rich culture in my fur,

waiting to skin me, for their own revenue.

6. I am a blind person on a tightrope, hands behind my back

surrounded by a thousand obstacles and transparent knives.

I’m being pricked and poked, beaten down, breaking down,

underestimating the depth of each stab every single time.

There are millions of ghosts in my ears, they are wailing,

shouting warnings to watch our backs, your lifespan is not guaranteed,

spend your days and nights wondering: Who is next?

Who’s going to get me? Which one of my white friends smile like they fear me?

5. I can’t breathe, why am I not allowed to breathe?

I tremble from the fear of my stolen identity.

They can kill me, fear me, beat me, and chain me,

replicate me so they can be me, breed me,

say they don’t see me, feign indifference, then still

mentally, systemically, blamelessly, guiltlessly enslave me,

turn the fault to me, then berate me,

because melanin, I am copper, almond, rich chocolate, and honey.

4. I am a target, to them I am dangerous, a liability,

a rabid dog that needs handling by brutality,

I am that useless commodity.

I don’t know how much time is saved for me,

How many more breaths I have left to breathe

before a bullet, or a noose, or any other crime of hate finds me

because

3. I am Black,

2. I am a Black Woman,

1. Polaris, you must see what else society is going to do to me.

Where is the spot God has left for me to write my name in history?

Polaris, do you cry for me?

Is freedom in the future only you can see?

Is change there, are my dreams there?

What shall I do for a seat on our throne?

0. I keep surviving, I’ve been doing it since birth.

It’s all we’ve ever known.

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