You aren’t listening

said the tree


the map isn’t found

in a numbering of needles, in sorting

by hue 

or desire

or in measuring 

our height, and girth —


life isn’t 

a matter

of scale.



set down your pen

and the thin sleeve

of your skin


and come closer, opened, holding

the small stones

of your fears


each meant 

for a cairn

set along a new path


through the thickets

of what it means

to be a body —


this is the map you seek:

a living 

in contours



in the rich dust

of love 

and loss


while stretching 

with new leaves

to the sky.



This poem came together after I learned about the work of Resmaa Menakem (you can do this yourself here).

To me, his wise and articulate perspective on racialized trauma feels incredibly important — both in general, and personally, as I work to map out my role in our country’s racial revolution. It feels like a puzzle piece I’ve long been searching for and, finally, can now glimpse in a nearly-out-of-reach space under the couch. 

Menakem’s insights also reminded me: Going after our missing pieces will challenge us, and surprise us. Stretching further than is comfortable isn’t really about what we retrieve, or even in completing the big picture (as satisfying as that idea may be). What matters more is the life we live in the reaching, with integrity, for each other.

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