Only a few days ago, I was mourning the departure of Toni Morrison and remourning the departure of Maya Angelou. In post, I noted that “all my mothers dead.” In this post I was speaking about my mothers of word, literature, time, rhyme and imagination. I was marking the ways that these women, from afar–and once, up close–fed me their blood, tears and milk of; the foodstuffs necessary for a BlaQueer being somewhere between and beyond boy and girl, man and woman, to create on unstable, shifting and starving lands. the type of lands that might swallow you whole, the lands that need you to tend to them for their sustenance, the lands of nation-states and disunited states governed by whiteness and held together by the blood and hopes of black folk unrelenting yet made toxic and deified by white supremacists unrelenting in a thirst of consumption, of delectable negroe-hood of blackness as propertied, of the BlaQueer as necessary double, triple always othered.
In this moment i had forgotten to remember and recall the one who stood at the crossroads of the meeting of my eyes and mind to the texts, the flesh theories of the women who dared to dream before me. i say women loosely. i don’t do gender. i am reluctant to put bars of containers of self or spirit on ancestors and those since departed, particularly because such categories merely operate as public and private logics for disempowerment, power accumulation, the maldistribution of social, legal and material resources and of course, racial, sexual and racial-sexual terror and violences. things like “men” and “women” are not merely used to denote the characteristics of ones body, sex, but instead to mark how one must be regarded, treated, dealt or disposed of of. excuse this free write. but i don’t do these things.
but to the meaning of grand. it is her born day. she is not maya. she is not toni. she is will mae. a conduit. a conductor. a/the harriet tubman of my mind/intellect/soul/heart. led to me self emancipation at the age of 7 when i read both the bluest eye and i know why the caged bird sings. i didn’t know then why i had regarded and desired blue eyes and other freedoms. my tongue got words then. my heart had a language. my mind could construct meaning. my grand mother. willa mae wilson. conduit. conductor. leader of my underground railroad. under ground because black women of a certain era and age are presumed to not know thing, to know no things, to know nothing at all when in truth, they know the universe and the soul and the flesh and the heart and the mind better than any geographer. in fact. great geography is black geography and better geography is blaqueer geography and black mother geography is perhaps the most studied and exceptional and precise of them all, not because gender but because experience of reaching beyond self to pull out, push out, love out and foster life…is a journey not all can make, handle, desire, sustain, contain. she is not just a mother, but a grand mother, because after 6 births and several nieces and nephews and cousins raised, she reared and brother and sisters at times and always my cousins…because her grandeur was a gift she couldn’t help but give because black mother geographers know a little something about the great beyond, what lies there and what it takes to arrive at this place called wholeness, peace and…beyond survival…a thriving and a bliss and a space of contentment and reconstitution.
it is my grand mothers birthday. she is still here. she still minds the crossroads to new levels of growth and if she hadn’t. if she refuses. if she re/tires. it is her choice and she has already done enough labor, enough gift giving, but i know in my, she’s far too grand to leave the conjuring alone. i just wonder where she might take me now. where the wisdom of her locs might lead or already have lead. she is always, already leaving and leading. a gardener who has taught to water my spiritual garden and mind the pests and snakes and changes in weather and climate and bounty. she has taught me about locks and gates and fences and freedom and the security of vulnerability and the differences between truth and love and freedom and martyrdom. she has taught me the difference in taste between love and infatuation. the stew. and smell. and taste. and feel. and last. and spoil differently. the operate differently under heat too, like the difference between crisco oil and olive oil. they both fry and do the job of cooking; but they burn at different temperatures and, when consumed over time, one blocks the heart and the other gives it life.
happy birthday to my grand mother, willa mae wilson. for all that you have done for me, the ways and things you have said “no” too, for teaching me the source of self regard, for minding my business, my mind, my soul. for making way for my queerness, because you knew i was no ordinary black, no ordinary queer, but a BlaQueer being with an extraordinary cause for wholeness, emancipation and creation. for being free when the word wouldn’t quite sit on the tongue and had little space in our world. for teaching me to value space and time and distance and pain and truth and truth and truth. because as you said then, every night at time of bed, and as you say now at every meeting of our eyes and our looming departure “i’ll love you forever, and ever, and ever and always.”
cheers to all who birthed you and those you continue to birth by the mere decision to be present.