It was never about the camera
or the power its lens claimed to transmit.
It was always about our mothers
Black and Muslim and alive
and how you zoomed out so far away from her.
Convinced she did not exist, you projected
your ignorance through the aperture of this lie.
At first, even our neighbors
distanced themselves from us,
as if proximity would spread your illusion
I want you to know, down here
a gate of paradise clips itself to the calloused feet of our mothers.
I want you to know down here
your dark chambers only captured the flat shadows of our likeness
you can’t own the ceremony of our brokenhearted mothers repurposing grief,
or filter in the way their deliberate joy ignited confidence in us
until our winnowed down bodies puckered.
The alchemy of what these women could do—the world told us we were worth one thing
our mothers sucked the poison out, and when we thought we had to muffle our laughter
our mothers said: louder.