from “Libations for the One Hundred Years of Sistah Gwendolyn Brooks” published in Remembering Gwendolyn Brooks, Moonstone Press, 2017
Was the skyline and the sunset and the yard fence and the kitchenette and the skillet and the bean pot and the beauty shop ready to be tipped
and drunk by you?
Were the prim church gals and blues queens, dark boys unloved but keen to turn those circumstances, the God-collared and the kind, the muted and
the perfumed, the black heroes of war, black wars dressed as servicemen, the yellow Jesses— were they braced for their redemption, surely? Surely? Did
they dream the arc of your
finesse, your balanced matter-of-fact? Bus-stop mahoganies, with glide inside their grind, elevated far from the women who paid them, unsung
anxious fathers subject to
adjectives: you crooned above their heads, your net their anthem. Dark girls measured for grace by loose length of curl, nosy neighbor ladies, neighbor men who rise from filthy
cots and pass on the pavement with lunch in a paper bag, the unstoried-unofficial, the bigly flat-foot eaters of ribs and lanky blue-funk gents—
who would wipe their mirror and prepare for your unveiling gaze?
From "Nine Seeds": An Introductory Essay on Sonia Sanchez, published in the anthology Peace Is A Haiku Song by Mural Arts Press (2012).
Scribing, as she will do inevitably, Sonia Sanchez gives peace a language of its own. To be a poet is to be a maker. To scan the world for words that keep us keen, keep us dreaming for peace, keep us opening the door to this necessary feeling, this concrete and sensory knowledge. To be Sonia is to make ways of speaking peace between us so that it will stay. The language labors against forgetting; the words describe so that we will always recognize its face and remember its texture.
From the novel Cotton Sky (unpublished):
Broad Street. Years before, Grandpa John took Katrina on day-long errands. Sun always washed these pictures. Distinctly, she remembered the itchy crinoline. Her dress fanned out on the old green bus seats. Her grandfather’s huge black shoes. The blue-gray sweater that flapped against his bony back. She remembered the bus groaning and the air brakes shushing at every corner. Passing the long blocks of shops on the way home. Outside those small worlds of aroma and glass, white men in white aprons with white hair swept the streets. Leaning on their brooms, they waved and chatted with neighbors. Even as a small girl, Katrina knew that white people had different ways. She wondered if they would laugh and chat with her and Grandpa John.
A bakery flourished in that memory too. A bold chrome sign in block letters. Its window lined with white paper. Small monuments of chocolate, coconut and vanilla crème icing sat on silver pedestals. Pies, arranged on a pyramid of white boxes. Peach, apple crumb, lemon meringue.
Because those bus ride afternoons would always include a treat, Katrina and Vince fought for the chance to go. Every time she won, she hoped that they might stop, that she might slip carefully down, keeping a hand on the billowing skirt the way her mother said. That she might pull the silver bars of that thick glass door and climb the mountain of wondrous tastes. She would gather her words, sprinkle them into his ear so carefully—how could he say no? The two would rise suddenly, with just enough time to pull the cord and go free, letting the bus grind on without them.
Katrina had wanted so much to find herself on those sunny streets, where the concrete was as smooth as wet sand abandoned by the tide. But her grandfather huffed out something about never shopping there and that was that. He was sorry to say it though, and rushed her off the bus at Olney Avenue, onto a stool at White Tower. Hamburgers in oily paper bags and squeeze-on ketchup made Katrina spin her seat dizzy and forget.