February 2, 2016

A Poem and CNF By Elizabeth Brooks: "Look at Me", "How I Met Your Father"

Elizabeth Brooks resides in Tampa, Florida. She is originally from Trinidad and Tobago.  A lover of life, family, friends, a good book,  lots of laughter and continues to grow in her faith and accept many challenges.  She is a librarian by profession and a part-time reference librarian at Saint Leo University, St. Leo Florida. She continues to enjoy reading and sharing her poems with many, at events in Tampa Bay.

 IVJ Brooks Look at Me

Look at Me

when I awake at the break of day
and I listen to the highlights of overnight
I'm quickly reminded of how much you struggle
with my blackness
another brutal incident, an indictment of ugliness
pain, grief and shame,
and I endure your criticisms, your attitude
your low expectations, your indifference
but you too, are a victim of the establishment
yet you continue very subtly to oppress me
with built in systems that sanitize and legalize
the perpetrations. I am constantly sideswiped
and you are oblivious.

Bewildered then, I look at my reflection in the mirror
and I see what my heavenly Father sees in me.
I boldly accentuate my looks, full lips,
natural hair, braids,
dreadlocks or nappy
for variety and flavor
I add extensions or color
which does not define me, look at me.
Deep down, I'm clear about my character.
But I'm forced though blessed to turn to my hub,
my spiritual mentors, my community.
We have to consciously strategize how to promote ourselves,
how to protect ourselves, who we are.

But you and I must  engage in dialogue  that's
enlightening and nurturing to both sides.
You cannot continue to walk around uninformed and
with blinders on. You see, there is value in diversity but
you must have knowledge and sensitivity but what's
lacking here clearly is empathy. Look!
look, look at me, at minorities collectively,
to some we maybe a succulent thing,
others sweet and sour to more still, a bit too tart.
But look at me,  you must have insight
to look deep within
below the surface of the melanin
of my beautiful skin.

it's not just cafe-latte, espresso, cocoa-tea,
molasses, cinnamon or brown sugar.
You are unable to recognize that this is where my
faithful spirit, and my humanity is housed
and flows throughout. I'm confident because it
washes and it cleanses me.
I am the epitome of beauty.
I stand on faith to duplicate
my vision, my wisdom, my outward look,
my inner beauty
which is radiant with Abundant Joy
and that - is my victory.
Look at me, my constant joy
my gratitude, my dignity and yes humility,
these are the attributes that enhance my beauty.

I know who I am,
I know whose I am.
I am more than you think I am.

How I Met Your Father

A newcomer appeared in the village. In my mind everyone seemed intrigued by his looks, his demeanor. No one was more handsome than he or dressed more exquisitely.
His clothing was handmade by God who dropped everything to fit and sew these selective textures of his clothing onto his perfect body. He was a living man doll. His thick thighs filled those shark-skinned pants.  He was a soccer player – a goalie.

There was a small gap in the gate that surrounded the soccer field. Sometimes after school, I would steal glimpses of him on the soccer field as I walked by when his team practiced.  A joyous smile spread across my heart and my little steps quickened with excitement, my lips apart in awe of his image.

He was older than my big brother, yet I loved looking at him. He was 23 and I was sweet sixteen and still my Daddy’s little girl. On other days after school he would pass me going in the opposite direction. He rode a bicycle that was recognizable. He had added a white thin strip to the bars, very subtle but identifiable - a touch of class.  I was able to spot that bike from a great distance – sometimes outside a shop on my way home from school and my heartbeat would quicken at that now familiar pace and for a few seconds I could not breathe.  I knew I was in love. My body would freeze into slow motion hoping that he would come out. Now!

Coincidentally, one day we shared a taxi and sat side by side. This impeccably dressed man with thick thighs, clean shaven and handsome, sat next to me.  He did not speak except to say “Hi.”  We traveled the short distance in silence. The taxi dropped me off. He now knew where I lived. I got out and never looked back. Shortly thereafter, he pursued me.

~Elizabeth Brooks

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