freedom

on to the next

the next page

the next stage

it’s like having your hair in braids for months,

it’s constrained but protected, and you can feel the new growth coming in

those lil baby curls

you play with them when you’re stressed, 

daydreaming about how big your fro will be when you can finally free yourself from those chains

braids

sometimes you need help to get through them all, sometimes you have to cut them short before you start

sometimes, sometimes, everything’s so conditional

but freedom is delicious

a process, but delightful

the braids come out, but there’s still the gunk that built up at the roots

the chains come off, but there’s still the dents that dug in at your wrists

you need clarity

look at reality

look at it, really

the gunk

the dents

this is where you were before you were free

(completely unrelated, but I am so happy)

(I never write happy poems)

don’t let it scare you

you’re free now

so clarify, wash the gunk out of your roots

massage your wrists, smooth the dents out

then play with your curls

yes, use your hands

your freedom

you’re at the next stage

on the next page

on to the next

4.1.19

I forgot I wrote this poem

it was right after I wrote marmalade jars, so it’s a pretty smooth transition. I was literally on to the next page of the sketchbook I was writing in

 

I don’t sit and explain my writing that often, but I was just talking about freedom in my prayer journal

I’m no longer a slave to fear, thank You for my freedom

I don’t want to miss my shackles

and it came back to me

I paused then, playing with the imagery of picking up old shackles to put them back on your wrists because you miss the weight, miss the feeling

I re-imagined the dents that appear after you’ve been constrained for so long, the mark that’s left until your blood washes it away

the mark that’s left until Your blood washes it away

anyway

that’s when I remembered this poem, so I sat down and read it and saw so many layers in it

I figured it was worth explaining

~

this was definitely the beginning of a good time for me

a better time, at least

this was me coming up out of The Valley

not every day was sunny, but at least it wasn’t always night

 

so I’m doing better now, and the easiest way for me to explain what it’s like is with a braid analogy

I’d had my hair in braids for three months before that weekend, so I meant this poem literally

braids are a protective style, and for me, they work really well. very low maintenance, the only downside is how much I miss playing with my natural hair. before long, there’s new growth to fiddle with, but I have to accept that the confinement is for my own benefit and leave my hair locked up

side note: I fiddle with my hair and with my fingers, so not having access to one or the other is not ideal for me. they’re like built in stress balls, fidget toys. I talk about how I haven’t figured out how to sit still in home, but it helps to isolate my activity to my hair or my hands

 

jumping ahead, the “chains…braids” was intentional

I try to think before I speak so it doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I’ll say the word I mean instead of the word I want to say

it just slips out

it actually happens more when I write, but this instance was intentional

even when locked up, I knew the chains weren’t forever, and even though I was in them, that wouldn’t stop me from growing

I would come out bigger, stronger

 

I have a lot of hair, so I knew taking down my braids would be a feat. thankfully, I have lovely friends, so I had reinforcements to get through them all, but since my natural hair wasn’t as long as my waist-length braids (one day), we cut them before we started taking them out

it was a short cut

take some shortcuts

some

 

by “sometimes, sometimes”, I was getting frustrated

it can be hard for me to give a straight answer because most things are conditional, when you think big enough. also, my brain is composed of like 5 simultaneous poems being written in a mix of languages, so having coherent words come out is also kinda difficult. sometimes. (ugh)

 

delicious, delightful

I was definitely hungry when writing this

I was also cappin, because I am so resistant to change (I taught my mom what cappin means like two weeks ago so I’ll be standing by my decision to use upper level slang right there. if you need a translation, let me know in the comments). I’m not proud of this stubbornness, but once I like something, I like it to be left alone. why change it? there’s the whole concept of things getting better, but that change thing… not really a fan. and then some processes are long, so it’s not even like there’s an instant gratification thing to make it worth it. I have to ~wait~

 

I come back to braids after this, because after the hours it takes yourself, detangle yourself, you realize that your hair is filthy

dust and skin cells and products and sweat all have parties in the knot at the base of a braid, so that has to be dealt with

I equivalted the gunk in the hair to the dents from the chains

neither are permanent, but while they remain, they serve as a reminder

but you don’t need that

you don’t need the comfort of familiarity, you don’t need to find a home in the feeling of fear

 

you need clarity

the gunk, the dents, that’s the before

that’s not the now

I am no longer a slave to fear

 

I took a break to literally marvel at how happy I felt, nothing like marmalade jars had happened before, and it hasn’t happened since. not because I haven’t been that happy, I’ve just been learning to express it through other outlets. to express it to, and for, myself.

 

so the freedom is new, it’s a change

but it doesn’t have to be scary

 

still, it’s not something I really want to look at

I’d gotten used to the braids, the chains, but I didn’t want to look at the gunk, the dents, the damage

 

clarity, clarify. the process of getting gunk out of your hair is called clarifying. they have shampoos for it. apple cider vinegar is also a good way to go, but ultimately, the gunk has to go

and the dents. let the blood flow. I have another poem about massages, having the anxiety massaged out of my chest, that’s for another time

next time

 

now, the curls are free

the hair is free

know that, show that

show, stage, perform, all these connections

anyway, you have your freedom, so use it

move on, move out of the space you got so used to

you are new

you are free

 

‘It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. ‘

Galatians 5:1

 

be blessed bbys ✨

Author: Iyaniwura Olarewaju

† | naija | nj | Cornell

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