Issue 28 poetry

Black Madonna

by Tifara Brown

An abstracted watercolor painting of a confederate monument in black, grey, green, yellow and red.
Confederate Soldier Splashed Red by Howard Skrill

I used to walk around my house with a sheet on my head, pretending to be Mary from the Bible. My soft curls matted on my head suddenly dragged the ground as I stepped around our moldy double-wide trailer into the role of the Madonna, the mother of God. I believed Mary was quiet and white and perfect, like those Italian actresses I saw in the Jesus movies. She ain’t get kicked out of Girl Scouts or went skinny dipping with niggas like I did. But I was wrong about her, about my connection to her. Mary was a Black girl from a poor ass neighborhood, a dirt road pickanniny like me. Mary would carry the weight of every Black mother who knows the stain of her skin will mark her babies for death from day one. Mary would carry the weight of every Black mother, guilty for fucking and creating life in Crenshaw. She carried the hole of a womb empty two times over, Life Giver feeling the life she carried taken back to the black abyss from which it came, her nappy-head little Boy’s kinks soaking up the blood from his capitalist police-sanctioned murder on the Cross. Mary was a nigra wench from Chiraq who has a death anniversary for all her babies, ashes to ashes spread all over the block in Bankhead, Mary was a Black crack addict from south Georgia, the little Black girl graduating high school pregnant with her second child, the ashy little girl your mama warned you about, “Don’t be like her, don’t be fast like her, stop shaking that ass or you gon’ end up like—” 


Mary was Black as hell.

I used to walk around my house with a sheet on my head. Now I know to be the Madonna, 

all I had to carry was myself.

Tifara Brown was raised in the Deep South and has been writing original poetry since 2013. She has shared her poetry on the TEDx stage and competed across the country in the art of spoken word. She is passionate about storytelling and uses her words for advocacy for the BIPOC community.

Howard Skrill is an artist/educator. His work has been widely published and exhibited standing alone and incorporated in pictorial essays exploring the fate of public monuments and their impact on the erasure of public and private memory. Howard lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife.