I had a friend who used to call me a black queen.

Twenty years later, I know what he means.

It wasn’t a mirage, more like a dream — alive.

He did not let me rely on what was said about our hue.

Discerning gaze as he ripped the pages out of history books.

They liars and crooks, he said. “Read something real

so you can feel Garvey and Dubois and Angelou.

Baby that’s your hue.” Eyes illuminated, he told me to

pick my head up and let them feel my majesty.

Full display of regal royalty. He told me to read

Achebe or Kwame and see what they say. The scheme was

to make you doubt what He gave you while simultaneously

imitating you. He used to call me a black queen before the

babies with the Maybes and the work and the bills,

before the nightmares became real, he knew. I know.

They will call me a black queen. You will see what I mean.