Where there is a woman there is magic. If there is a moon falling from her mouth, she is a woman who knows her magic.


Ntozake Shange, Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo


I have made an ordeal of icing and arranging the cupcakes cones. When Mariama sees that I have removed her Keurig k-cups from their display stand and am replacing them with the pastries, she nods with a motherlike approval. Mariama bakes these cupcakes in icecream cones for every party. Najwa paces back in forth in her kente patterned overalls, trying to decide where to hang the last poster. On it, her looping handwriting has inscribed Down With The Patriarchy in purple glitter glue. Kayla hangs a large tapestry in Brandon’s room (the only access to the backyard) to hide his bed while a bushel of dried sage burns to expunge his cis-het male energy…and sweaty foot odor of his room. Boxed wine lines the coffee table. Trap music spills softly from the borrowed speakers. And we prepare for the moon.


Wine lipped


crystal shards


line dance floor,


like ritual,


like seance.


A hip swaying sage smoke


calling back of every spirit


that came before.


And sound is black.


And music is woman.


And body is a lifetime of


waning oceans.



Mariama’s living room floor is a garden from which black women sprout and we share tales of healing and distress. Our voices merge into one and sound like the waning and roar of the ocean. When a boy enters, the room goes silent as Mariama politely kicks him out. When the door shuts behind him, we laugh as one mouth. For the burning ceremony I write, not allowing the people who love me to love me actively, on a slip of paper and fold it twice. One by one we bring our slips of paper to the fire and watch the flames crumble them into ash. Letting go of the things that weigh us down, and we emerge from the smoke as breath.


“As black women,” Mariama begins, “our energy is inherently linked to the energy of the moon, the first mother. On the full moon, our power as black women is significantly heightened. Can you feel it?” and the crowd hums in agreement, “Thank you all for joining us in this space to celebrate, commune, and revel in our combined energy. You all are so beautiful.”


Eyes flutter close


like the wings


of butterflies, and silence


floods the backyard


engulfing the witches


at prayer.


And in the smoke,


a love promise rises.




by the light


of the full moon.


“Where there is woman,” Kayla shouts, “there is magic.” Najwa’s voice join and together they continue, “If there is a moon falling from her mouth,” Mariama and I join, “she is a woman who knows her magic!” And Kayla’s smile is so wide her eyes can’t manage to stay open. Her joy spills into my mouth, then Najwa’s, then Mariama’s until the four of us are all teeth. Some of the other women don’t notice us, some watch and don’t know what we’re talking about but a soft smile fills their face anyway. This is home. In this ocean of beautiful black women, I have found three pillars in them.


I think of the others here, the myriad of differently browned skins, the hair that coils or locks or lays or blends into bundles of remy or isn’t there at all, the patterned cloths and exposed stomachs and men’s button down shirt over tightly bound breast. I don’t know most of them. I think of how some of us might not have liked each other in the real world, but under this moon we play double dutch, blow bubbles, dance, and are little girls again. We laugh and fumble, staining the pavement with spilt wine and our glorious noise.


The streetlights are bright


like small summer suns.


They flicker on, calling kids


back to their stoops,


back to their mamas


who hang from the door hinges,


wringing their hands,


wondering where


the moon got its glow.


How it hangs there like a mama,


waiting for her night child


to come back home.



After everyone leaves, the four of us collapse into each other like we always do. Talk of tea and lovers and white supremacy. We all reluctant to go back to our own homes and our own beds because here we are safe. Here we surround ourselves with other black women, with each other, and create air in a world that won’t let us breath. Here we can shower ourselves in moonlight and play like there is no sun, no cruel light shining on all that is trying to crush us. And what a splendid kind of love that is.