To Malcolm X on his second coming.
The coffin breaks, fingers wriggle through clay, touch the light. A chiseled face comes full with flesh, eyes roaming the landscape of his own prophecy. Negroes in their Infinitys, Benzs, and BMWs, chains of gold around their necks, fifty tons of gold for teeth, sneakers handmade in the glass pavilions or murderers. Hiphop stirring the empty souls. Up from his tomb in our lost hopes, he stands and prays into Allah's outstretched hands for mercy.
This is why he came back: on a plantation porch, Lil Missy plays with Liza, offering her lemonade. "Liza, tell me again about them runaways you turned in, them bad bucks daddy hanged and cut up, lovely little Liza Mae, brown eyez, brown eyez."
At five o'clock in the morning in Baltimore, in Philadelphia, in New York, in Newark, in Chicago, the fresh morning water of showers falls, and the followers of Elijah utter their morning prayers. Allah the Beneficent, Allah the Merciful, All praises to Allah, and the Nation of Islam, Hope of the resurrection of the so-called negro, comes to life, the life before the death of the Master.
"Liza, where your mind, chile? me and the other boys had plans for bein free and comin back for y'all. my mama raised you from a little nothin, and you turned us in. Now we rottin in some place with no name, cut up like dog meat. Liza, where your mind?"
Malcolm walks in Harlem along the broken streets, gathering mystified eyes. In Sylvia's he pokes his head in and asks what food there is for the soul. Some woman says, "You look just like Malcolm X. You shoulda been in that movie that boy Spike Lee made." And she goes on cutting up custard pies and singing a gospel song she wrote. Malcolm goes over to St. Nicholas Avenue, looks down on the city. Afternoon shadows begin to fall like the difficult questions of his father. Malcolm mourns his mother, the abyss she fell into and could not escape, the abyss of his genius. In a glimmer an angel settles on his shoulder, as small as a pin but with a voice like a choir singing. "No more grief, blessed son, no more grief." Malcolm falls to the pavement, sobbing for Elijah.
Lil Missy sits in her bedroom chair, sewing eyes on her doll, singing. Liza listens to night sounds, afraid of darkening the door to tomorrow. Lil Missy says, "Liza, come round here and rub my feet befo you go to my daddy's room."
In the Audubon ballroom the night he was killed, Malcolm X saw his assassins rise amid a host of spirits battling for his life. Demons and angels filled the space, battling for his soft head, as his eyes took Allah's kiss. His murder was a rupture in the world of the spirit, the demons rushing desperately to name their position in the African heart, where the angels fought to defend God's voice uttering His own holy name, Allah. Malcolm's head hit the stage like a giant stone from Zimbabwe landing on Earth. His mind took on its silence while his spirit was filled with song. "Oh, blessed son, come unto me. Oh, blessed son."
In front of the Schomburg, Malcolm rises above the city, his mind covering all of Harlem, while he issues the manifesto:
On self-defense: strike me, and I will strike you back On freedom: freedom is a fire waiting to come On the future: no profit will come from destruction On the Nation of Islam: the saved are still saving
Caravans form in the streets, unloading the unconscious souls. The open eyes of the living dead stare from windows and shops at this voice that is in every doorway, this body that is the landscape, as if the city is now flesh. In one moment he is there, and then he is gone, letting their bodies go softly back into time. Negroes wonder what has been among them and is now gone. Malcolm sits on steps on Convent Avenue, again just another man. An old woman pulling a cart comes to him, touches his head, and both of them vanish into Allah's wish.
The wise among us chant the filling of our life with life, take this fragment of a gift from heaven and anoint the heads of the young, who are our promise to live -
Teach, Master, teach. Teach, Master, teach. Teach, Master, teach. Wa Alaikum Salaam.
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|Author:||Weaver, Afaa Michael|
|Publication:||African American Review|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1999|
|Next Article:||On the page.|
|4th Annual Canadian League of Black Artists' Poetry Competition Winners.|