Finding my Way Back to You: An Elegy For Maya Angelou

Rest Well Maya Angelou

Image by Reba Crawford-Hayes

 

it’s been four days, seventeen hours, nine minutes, and fifteen seconds since the morning i woke up
to headlines blaring news of your death,
since the morning you didn’t wake up at all.

you passed through this world silently in your home,
only eighty-three miles away from me,
one hour and twenty three minutes away.

two days after, i got on a plane and passed through the country in silence
and on the way to the airport my mother nodded, knowingly, in a single mother kind of way.
she said, “i always called you my little maya angelou.
looks like it’s your time now.”

but when you left, it was like you’d never really gone, as in
there is no vacancy here.
it was always in your best interest to take up space–
the spaces we weren’t allowed in, the spaces you made for yourself, snuggled in comfortably
and without shame.

on the plane i saw a woman in front of me open to page one
of “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”
and simultaneously i wanted to smile to see someone reaching out to you
and to hurt myself for never finishing the book.
instead i left it for my sister to do what i had not–
looks like it’s her time now.

some say that when a person dies,
their spirit rises
from inside the body and searches
for one other vessel to inhabit,
but we all felt you on the tips of our fingers, felt
cool breezes on our cheeks like summertime kisses.
we inhaled your essence in our morning coffees
like essential oils,

leaving us to think that still,
like air,
you’d rise.

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