You move me.
Like fourteen years old:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X changed my life,
You move me like a long, cool drink of water after the steepest hike on the hottest day.
Like Lena Horne’s grace and Alice Walker’s words and Billie Holiday’s life.
Like– like the time I met Mr. T.
Flinging myself into his arms like a little girl at twenty-two,
overcome with an emotion I did not realize I had, you see
we of the fatherless tribe
love men differently.
Like I love Mr. T.
Sherman Hemsley/ John Amos/ and Arsenio. (Yes, Arsenio!)
Because they were constants, for at least a period of time, present
in my home/ in my living room/ in my adolescence
as no other men were, so
I love them.
Mr. T.— that is how you move me
like humility/ lessons/ joy/ grief/ daydreams/ truth:
because I am a Leo, so I walk with my head high and act like I’m cool
but really– I am scared.
And you are the constellation that guides me home, the star that lights my path.
You remind me of love and hope and action and dignity
like Muhammad Ali we
will stand for something and
I am sensitive.
and not a morning person…
and knit picky about lint
and sometimes too emotional and other times not emotional enough
because my youth was bruised
and you massage me back to life
with your rhythm. your words. your spirit.
you move me like wind.
Like five years old:
Rabbi Neil strums the guitar: familiar.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your might.
I pretend to read from the prayer book.
I can’t really read yet, but I pray real.
Like, twenty years old:
meeting my brother for the first time.
My smile on his face/ my eyes looking into my eyes
and so much pain behind both our eyes
that I had to look away.
Like 1984 Olympics:
Rafer Johnson was my hero
and every man in my life
will forever be compared to him
because he used to put me on his shoulders
and I was special,
if only every now and then.
You move me like Native American prayer songs,
like graffiti under freeways and jeans that fit perfectly
like Ella Fitzgerald scats amazing azure blues
up and down and slipping sideways, harmonizing honey hymns
you move me like sunshine
like you/ Fred Hampton:
speaks truth/ stands solid/ thunder in the sky.
Rock the world!
Shock them/ shake them/ make them see
with out a doubt,
you most definitely move me.
* * *
This poem was originally performed by Gina Loring on Season 5, Episode 10 of HBO’s Def Poetry (2006).