A Solstice Song

The summer of 2020 was a difficult one for everyone I knew. Many of us were spiraling from the reality that anyone you loved could die from a pandemic that no one seemed to fully understand. And when you moved your mind from that abyss, you might have been left stupefied and trying not to gag as you turned on your TV and stood witness to a black man being suffocated by a knee on his throat.  For me, the ache of that summer became a lead cage across the center of my chest. 

Luckily, I thought I didn’t need to pay attention. I mean, each hour of every day remained packed with the hustle and flow of telework, chasing my toddler son, and my husband and I bracing against each other to ensure that neither tumbled down the rabbit hole. But that plan quickly failed. Because what I turned away from during the daylight hours simply decided to outsmart me, call my bluff and manifest as the energy of my dreamed nights. 

Every night of the summer was filled with either dreams that left me waking in tears or nightmares so deep that my neck ached from the energy of moans unexpressed. I dreamed of ancestors and the sounds of the waves on the slave barge. I dreamed of flooded swamps and crocodiles crawling through the streets of DC. The emotions and memories which had settled in my bones intensified and became a pounding, unforgiving reverberation behind my temples. 

I felt the wear on my smile. On my heart. And on my very spirit.  I felt trapped between the voice of ancestors calling for remembrance and a future that seemed darkened everyday by the hot tar and feathers of systemic racism and a subtle cowardice. 

But all at once, an unexpected vibration seeped into my regular evening rituals.

Now, I’ve never considered myself a singer. And I have no illusions about any innate gifts as it relates to my musical abilities. But for days, I meditated. I prayed. And before sleep, I allowed myself to do one simple thing. I’d hum. 

That’s it. 

Just hum whatever came to me. It often started as an off-tune rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (for the sake of my sleeping son) and flowed from my lungs on the warm summer air to inevitably become melodies that painted pictures behind my eyes. Melodies which, for days more, remained wordless. As if giving life to the tune was balm enough.  If nothing else, I revelled in the simple blessing of my shoulders untensed. My jaw unhinged. My fists unclenched. Each night, the dreams still came but the fears and grief they instilled no longer stayed and settled. Instead, I became the instrument through which they passed. And the sounds they carried became our Lullaby Time. 

It wasn’t until the Summer Solstice that one repeating melody rose from my lips, carrying with it words that surprised me. These words continue to bring a gentle smile to my lips when I think of what the summer of 2020 taught me. It’s a lesson I can’t escape and, for the first time in my life, I have no desire to do so. It’s in the spirit of this truth that I share with you my Solstice Song: A Lullaby for My Ancestors.

Solstice Song: A Lullaby for My Ancestors

Hello Summer. Striding Tall. 

Farewell Winter. Springtime and Fall. 

Time to blossom all our seeds. 

I Am. I Am. I am My Father. Mother. And Me. 

I am rivers. 

I am rain. 

I am healing from their pain. 

I am leaning with the breeze. 

I Am. I Am. I am My Father. Mother. And Me. 

And I have questioned…why this load?

Why their burdens?

Why their woes?

It’s because I’m LIVING. And standing free. 

That I Am. I Am. I am My Mother. Father. And Me. 

And I am learning why I’m here. 

I feed my baby more than fear. 

I am older than I seem. 

I am taller than the trees

I am stronger than they dreamed. 

I am worthy to be seen. 

I breathe FIRE. Then weep SEAS. 

For I AM. I AM. 

I am My Father. 

I am My Mother. 

And I Am Me.