Thank you for joining us on this journey into the future of Black Feminism.

Our first week’s art was created by the wonderful Joy Spika and Junauda Petrus.

Junauda Petrus is a creative activist, writer, playwright, and multi-dimensional performance artist who is Minneapolis-born, West-Indian descended, and African-sourced. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Joy Spika is a mentor and educator, who believes in the power of art to communicate and connect people. About Joy

“Water Constellations” by Junauda Petrus with art by Joy Spika:

1.

This morning,

before 5am

I woke up hips burnin’ and

they asking

to be

bathed in saltwater

and float

away pain

ancient as wound.

Starlit,

candlelight

looking at myself

curves of skin

break water breaks

and I ask the nebula

in my bathwater to let me know

what I need to heal the things

I ain’t even know the root of?

Root chakra got to do with

family and tribe

and dispersed and dispelled and

diaspora of

outburst,

turned

inside out.

I anchor

hips/ass

down into water

warmed, sea-salted,

rosemary, eucalyptus

scented and oiled.

Turmeric essenced.

Star dipped.

And I ask again and again

what roots am I turning up,

turning out

in these

relic

burning hips

of mine?

2.

Once when my mom was taking a bath

she pulled my sister and me in the tub with her.

I was 5 and my sister was 4.

She was taking a bath and we wouldn’t leave her alone.

We never wanted to leave from around her,

so she pulled us into the tub with all of our clothes on.

I splashing around with my sister,

in our mom’s rare silly,

swimming around her perfect body,

the body we was from,

living in her laughter.

“In my next life,

I ain’t havin’ no kids.

I gon’ just travel the world

and have a bunch of lovers,”

mama says in her Trini accent,

to me and my aunt

31 years later,

on a Saturday afternoon.

She sounds joyful and decided.

She says it like

she has already made the appointment in her date book.

I am sitting on her bed, puffing her trees.

Incense burning by the bedroom door.

Some of my mommy’s and auntie’s grandkids are in the next room.

We are in her first apartment she has ever had by herself.

My mom was a mom at 15 and never lived alone.

Now she brags about her cream colored couch.

Her space is filled with books about

Buddhism, Afrikan spirituality and herbalism

she reads and meditates with

every morning around 5.

She is 60, I am 36.

Suddenly we are woman to woman.

Me with no kids to her 4 daughters.

My aunt Brenda, laughing at my mom’s

imaginary harem

chimes in about how instead of kids

in her next lifetime

she is gonna be a dancer.

My mom suggests she should also get a girlfriend.

I remind them they are both still alive

beautiful and black

free to hoe around

and dance

as they please.

They remind me

they Trinidadian girls

moved from island to island

to Texas to Minnesota

raised their children together

caught buses

against hood tundras,

in the era of drug wars,

tethered by the respectability of motherhood.

Our daddies got to play out the wounds

of their childhood abandonment

in dramatic grown men tantrums

of abandoned baby mamas and drug addictions.

My aunt

the free spirit of my nostalgia.

Who I loved to watch drink rum

and party and dance to Soca.

Who would go out to the club

red and black spandex,

flaming Fashion Fair lips on her dark skin,

gap resplendent and sexy.

The one who taught me how to be lush internally.

Tells me it was different for them,

than it was for me

And suddenly we are girl to girl.

3.

This one I can’t forget.

We met in the cafeteria

at community college,

among all the Black kids who convened

to flirt with each other,

gossipped about Black Planet

brought speakers, brought bass,

left for the park to puff on communally resourced blunts.

I was 19 when we met and she was 22.

She had her own place.

She had two sons and a baby daddy,

who lurked to undermine her being free of him.

These things made her seem grown to me.

She was the type to shape shift,

her femmeness

marvelous and for her only.

Her hips wider and heavier

then all the truths wrapped up

into her headwrap.

She showed me

I wanted to love on a woman

my whole life.

I tried to disappear,

not knowing how to hold it.

I fell in love

and did not know

that was

what it was.

My existence

would be quiet prayer

to fall into her completely

surrounded in layers

sacred and fleeting.

She became

calls on phones with

coiled cords unraveling down

the hallway into my bedroom at

my mama’s house.

We would talk all night

and tightly held things

lotused from my chest

out my mouth.

She was an Aquarian soul that

had the capacity to hold me.

Water bearer taught me

how to bathe

as a grown woman.

I would ride for

an hour and a half,

by bus,

each way.

Bring her chocolates and treats

just to find myself in her clawfoot tub.

At night,

her small apartment,

her small bathroom,

a spa.

She would make warm waterfalls

fill a basin of porcelain.

Lavender bubbles,

dead sea salts,

rose water and

dried petals.

Floating.

I levitate in her hot spring.

My titties and belly button

break foam and glisten in candlelight.

She let me feel pretty and

alluring for myself.

Loving her I was in over my head,

learning how to swim.

And I wanted to kiss her.

With all my heat.

4.

For her. I

put

Florida water,

lavender oil,

rose water, and

epsom salt

in our tub

in our pink bathroom.

Place

rose petals in it. I

blast a space heater

in the bathroom

to keep the air warm. I

put pots of water to boil on the stove

for when the bath cool off.

Slow and deep.

My beautiful boi,

divine hubby

from Cameroon

who love me

like I ain’t even know I

could be love like.

Her arms

immersions in

ancestral love.

I make her a bath and talk to

my great-great grandmother

in Trinidad

who died before I

existed.

Who my mama say

lived real close to the water

who used to swim out real far at sunrise

then swim back.

She would drink a couple of gulps of

salt water at the end of her swim.

Drink middle passage

become libation.

I hold this in my heart when

I am making a bath for my lover

on a Sunday.

She dips in the sea

made for her

and she smiles at me.

Imagine ancestors

laid up in love

just like us.

The moaning of women

in my ancestral bloods, I

invite them

to live loud in me. I

swirl the waters

with my hand, I

am sitting dry

next to the tub

and in love

with my lover’s skin,

grazing her

with my fingers.