Sermon: On the Sanctity of the Beauty Shop
My beautician bends over my back—her fingers flying across my tender scalp,
reading my follicles. Said: I need to drink more water, use product with less
protein, more time for me—a blind oracle with callouses who knows I don’t
moisturize as much as I’m supposed to. She’s catching every hair that’s
not ready to be caught snatching and hugging them tight like Mary and Magdalene
at the foot of the Cross—that’s right I carry both Blessed Mother and Blessed
Apostle in my head, am both, can be easily confused for whore by agendaed men
but trust and believe, I deserve the same special handling irregardless
I’m a whole broken woman. And just because I came in one way
don’t mean I’m not God-made woman, don’t mean I can’t be transformed, don’t
mean I don’t sit at the right hand of the Father—look at this crown on my head.
You don’t have to believe in a higher power to have been taught that pain is holy,
that faith hope and charity means suspending disbelief and venerating lost causes,
just be the woman who loves a man just be a Black person who loves this country,
just plant a garden and watch it grow then winter and frost see what grows back in
better yet just birth a Black child and pray that they live.
She’s the only one who asks what I want. I say in return give me a protective
styling, remind me of my mother’s thighs bracketing my shoulders, blue magic,
and cocoa butter, wild growth mane & tail, luster’s. I’m tired of what makes
me stronger. Sometimes I want to be as weak and fragile as my follicles.
Can you please hold my hand for just a second? Ask me, girl you ok?
Lay my baby hairs with edge control, say: I’ve been thinking about you.
wearing I am a Chemist. Save effort and assume I am right
black shirt white lettering
I order the kale and quinoa,
lightly dressed in black
pepper, a yogurt Caesar,
steak seared Black on the outside,
medium rare in the center
I eat at the wrought iron café
table under the awning,
awing at the Black folks
who walk by.
They head nod front to back
to acknowledge my Black
face kissed by sun rays.
We Black folks secret decoder ring.
In fact, my phone call with East Coast sings
with the equivalent of Black jive,
we debate the deliciousness
of banana pudding with Nilla
Yo-mama-so Black Black
Blacker than a youthful heart attack Black
that use the-White-voice-at-the-job-Black
that knick-knack-paddy-whack Black
that big Black, little Black, get-it-from-her-mama-Black
that listening to Black on Both Sides Black,
talented tenth Black, I have a Dream Black
Pound cake Black, Pan African Black,
bitch Black, nigger Black, nigga Black,
nerd Black, blues Black, talk-back Black,
block-running Black, money-chasing Black,
book-read Black, bad-bitch Black,
bougie-Black, jezebel and mammy Black,
the-conscientious-of-optics Black, all
high yellow Black,
snow white Black
untreated mental trauma Black
take it to the Father Black
holding space for you Black
Angelique Zobitz (she/her/hers) is the author of the chapbook ‘Love Letters to The Revolution’ from American Poetry Journal. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee, 2020 Best New Poets nominee, Spring 2019 Black River Chapbook Competition Finalist, and a five-time Best of the Net nominee. Her work appears in The Journal, Sugar House Review, Obsidian: Literature & Arts of the African Diaspora, and many others. She can be found at www.angeliquezobitz.com and on Twitter and Instagram: @angeliquezobitz.