Rahel Ambachew is currently a sophomore majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. She writes poetry in English and her first language Amharic. She is a published children’s book author for Nechisar National Park. She hopes to continue mastering her craft and publish Amharic young adult novels.
The Essence of Blackness
Long long ago, when the native people of this land were all that was here Before the white people came around and stole people Before they tried to erase our identity and paint our skin the color of hate and take us as enemy, Before they wanted to distort our culture and religions because they couldn't wrap their heads around the fact that We could talk to nature, make peace with earth and heavenly bodies…. We lit fire and burned incenses We pressed leaves and made medicines We had gardens full of herbs that healed our bodies We made peace with the mountains, carving them precisely with an accuracy that could not be matched Layering rock on top of another making pyramids We could talked to the stars constellations aligning to tell us how to get home We made peace with earth, the lakes and rivers We drank from heavenly waters Our land was fertile, trees love growing there The earth under us was a treasure chest We walked on gold and diamonds precious stones on the crust Art was our language weaving stained grass Mixing and matching complementary colors Beading earings and necklaces molding pottery and citing poetry Braiding hair and picking afros painting our face All in the presence of the sun and the everyday breeze of the nightly air Music was our language drums matching our heart beats Dancing around fire we inspire Our skin is a complex mixture of oral history and geographical blessing Our skin is not afraid to make the sun part of it self Our skin lusts in the ray and heat and light We wear the sun like a halo glowing like angels we emit light Beauty that never gets old Culture that could never expire Our ancestors’ essence transcends time and space, hardships and death, injustice and filth The black Essence can not be striped down by slavery It can not be killed by imperialism, colonization, occupation, false constitutions, apartheid, redlining, incarceration not jim crow or scrambling Even if fire rained for water we are growing We are science We are superstition We are grounded and up lifted Gravity defying hair Kings and queens Melanated Milk and honey We are blessed truly All of our stories might not be written, schools might brush off thousands of years of black history But you my black sisters and brothers are the waking history of our ancestors You hold the black essence in you Let me tell you a simple example When you take that selfie smiling to your phone The sun making you its home Glowing like a goddess You are the essence You simply radiate the people that came before you All history comes boiling down to you All that exists, all that shines that works, all that is to come has your fingerprints Your power is unlimited you know how to handle it Ethics is your essence, Persistence, loyalty Fix your crown walk fiercely Know that some people can’t see the big picture Because you are plastered all over the world in big prints and neon lights You are your ancestors wildest dreams And yes you will grow like dandelions you could sail over the wind And find freedom within yourself Pioneers of the essence Gratitude and blessing to our black ancestors We indulge in your presence right here and in every space.