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Of Wind: a collection of poems about rebirth

Written by Zanele Chisholm

I The air,

still your gravity spills into

open lakes soiled

with Black Girls who birthed themselves


years and worlds before. You still see most clearly in the dark. You light curtains on fire.

You’ll undo yourself

here make yourself vague

you’ll find beige walls

layered within your skin brown eyes painted into a self-portrait your nose

still too wide still

too thick the blackness,

a running stream

and never-ending.

God is no Picasso -

“You’re the one that I want,”

she says

Another rebirth

This time you let the air sink, lungs held by nothing more than a void thickening. Your thighs growing, unshapely and consistent indecisions of steel,

impermanent paint brushes stroked against your outer shell.

No, these moments may not be undone. You will relive them every so often on soft nights when the wind is gentle and then,

again, you must pretend to forget what it felt like to undo yourself over and over


until your body is like pottery sculpted from your fingertips.


this is not love but it is something deeply rooted, contemplated

in the bloodline of messy women

like you. You were never completed. And yet,

here you are.

II Make good with your incompletion. Make good with the lonely child stifled within you. Hold her,

all that is left now of you of her are the prayers of your mothers.

Bow only to yourself Black Girl unlearn the ways of emptiness, slur the gaze of men who watch they wish not to witness the rebirth of self-love caught between halves of you.

Enter the mold,

speak to your daughters fold the tales of resilience into the knots of their hair,

make them remember what it was

to be unfinished and yet whole. Make them remember the way you curved yourself made a home out of flesh and bones. For your babies, daughters of soil and blues.

You are a sun in rapture You are blooming Black Girl but only if you rise. You’ve never done any good near Earth’s crust. You belong in Heaven’s gaze, Black Girl.

A future’s myth lies within you they’ll say you were only a fantasy. But, you are more real more true than the fists of God.

The only certainty.

III I am

Cleopatra's risk Eve’s risk

I am

Like the sea in the ways in which I

overtake you, fall over you

like piles of breathless lightning. I am awoken

by the thunderous hooves of my dreams, they tell me to sleep when I’m dead when I’ve lost what makes Borderland-Women so terrifying.

The unexpected thrust of our hips propelling you into another dimension. You are not well versed in the rhythms of my ancestors. You cannot out beat the stomp of my tongue,

weighing obese

with the sting of decolonized spirits

lifted by Venus.

We are the ugly sisters witch bewitch you in broad daylight

I am no longer soft like the kisses you gave to send me falling. I am

no longer hollow like the gaze you emptied out before allowing it to hold me.

I cannot belong to anything any longer. Because I too fully,

too wholly

belong to myself.


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