Makahiya (How Do I Tell You I Remember)

A mixed media image with a sepia toned image of a young African-American woman reclining in a field. The photograph is enhanced with pointillist fields of color
Crystal Z Campbell, Notes from Black Wall Street (Soft, Receptive, and Absolute), 2019, mixed media on wood, 30 x 20 inches / Courtesy of the artist

Can a weed be humble
bashful, sensitive, or shy
to test for memory, drop it from its senses
lean over the balcony
with your camera
telephoto a royal freefall
repeat from increasing crowns, observe
in bursts, freeze
a mandrake’s scream
in frames

(to survive, means you have mastered the art of feigning sleep.)

Can a weed fake its own death
rumor itself a zombie
lavender pom-poms shrieking with laughter
accordion breaths, pleat upon pleat,
each one advocating for the drone of the next
twinned petioles fanning inward
synchronized swimmers of predictable
space race in battered capsules
shunning contact, drooping in

(masses, are like weeds, too.)

Can weeds be so unknowable
deserving only of uprooting,
unnaming, and withholding
details dusted in loose soil
one thick skull to four heads
pollinating a pistil
shooting the system
with no hands
to tell the times or
plot a way to leave

(let it be to move from, or stay back.)

Can a weed be a clock
like a rounded pocket glass of hours
buds and stems cut from past lives
leave this one with eyes enclosed
arms folded, mummy
stay, forever
inside of a sleeping bag
there are dogs,
cats, too

(a sentient being often closes, falls, or stills, when touched.)

Can a weed crack
wisely, perennially
or what did
the riot say
to the massacre

(even the wind is a threat to something without roots.)

Photo © Melissa Lukenbaugh

Crystal Z Campbell is a writer, multidisciplinary artist, and experimental filmmaker of African American, Filipino, and Chinese descents who hails from Oklahoma. Campbell’s hybrid essays and poems have been published in Hyperallergic, GARAGE, Monday Journal, and World Literature Today. Campbell is currently a Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center Fellow (2020–2021).