—for “Theresa 2003” by Dawoud Bey
The multi-colored blues you wear sing their Chi-town infamy. Your eyes say things. There is an everyday teenager battling the throws of adulthood with how it was to be six and in love with seeing tomorrow. Things steppin’ like those Saturday night steppers from your fifteen-year-old heart. You are twenty-six now, and I wonder what blues you wear this Friday. I wonder if the SouthShore took you to woman-hood too fast, or did the train break down, and you had to bus it into the matriarchal sundress of rhythm that beats underneath your eyes. They draw us to you, Chi-town’s dark Mona Lisa. Like everyone who sat in that wooden chair, before and after you, they have worn dreams like sweaters that resist cold. I once sat in the same moment too, but I could never be the girl with a dark thick nose and thick lips and African eyes that morphed into Mondays and next weeks. I could never be the woman that you are now, moving into new chapters of gardening, growing like Fauna’s tomorrows. I could never be the Augusta wind you know, blowing against the bending flowers, how to replicate through the maneuvers of your hands, those children who will sit in wooden chairs and wonder their worth. Theresa, I am saying your name to bring you back from one existence to the now, and you are here, watching over us through the magic of art. Theresa, the etymology of you is just beginning, but has been forever. I am in your eyes, looking back at all children—your Chi-town, your wooden chairs, your Augusta Savageness.
-Curtis Crisler (Allen County)
Curtis L. Crisler is Assistant Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Wonderkind (chapbook), comes out in April, and ‘This’ Ameri-can-ah comes out in 2015.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem from an Indiana poet every day in April (hand-selected by Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras). Check in daily to see who is featured next!