Dear Mama, Dear Sister, Dear Friend, Dear Lover,
You are loved.
You are the beauty of cool shade on hot afternoon. When your brothers and sons toiled in fields, in quarries, on downbound trains, and spiteful factories, we carried your love with us.
We smelled your healing incense at the threshold. We heard your golden voice before you spoke.
When we hungered you fed us: corn meal, apples, and ash.
When we were strong and triumphed, you sung to us: indigo lullabies and syrup sweet melodies.
When we fell and failed, you held us in mahogany arms, held us to your invisible body, a body the world could not see.
But we see you. Every curve of hip. Every furrow of brow. These are etched into the pine of our souls.
All souls seek truth and you are a word that cannot be spoken aloud, a love more ancient than lines in ash, deeper than the dark waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Mama you made me.
Sister you saved me.
Friend you loved me.
Lover you are me.
If the world washed away, know this: all that we did, we did for you. All that we are, you gave to us. These strong arms are your arms. These legs climb the mountaintop in your name.
The only reason a man inhales is so that you may one day exhale.
You are more than loved, heart. You are love.
Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of New Orleans. He’s also a member of several writing collectives, including the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance and the Melanated Writers of New Orleans.