This journal is the property of Venus Ruth Elizabeth Jordan.
That’s me, a fifteen-year-old Mensa.
I scored a 146 on the Cattell IQ test, which makes me weird enough
to have visited the Smithsonian eighteen times.
I am also a cross-country runner, a poet and a lesbian, a queer, a dike.
Back to my journal,
It was purchased at Community Book Center
for three dollars and forty-nine cents.
If my journal’s pages are ever damaged or nonexistent,
the front and back covers will survive, as a reminder of what my universe is like.
No thanks to me though, thanks to something called contact paper.
My Aunt Geneva Antoinette-Marie schooled me
on “a thang or two about contact paper.”
I swear, I had never seen contact paper before in my life.
That was until my trip home, my real home,
the city I was born in, the city that is exactly 327.3 miles south/via Interstate 49.
Auntee said contact paper was in “like homemade sin” back during the days,
when book covers weren’t cool.
Book covers were too much of a hassle, according to Teety.
Especially when sistahs she ran with had better things to do,
like trying to hone they sexy.
Auntee said chicks who wasn’t bad built and knew it,
spent most of their classroom intermissions leaning into lockers,
showing off their skintight jordache jeans,
balancing themselves atop wedged espadrilles
all while looping bubble gum with their tongues.
These sistahs behaved as if chewing would go out of style and they liked it.
The contact paper craze didn’t last long at Teety’s school.
Teachers pitched a fit about how contact paper aged the quality of books quicker
than books wearing nothing at all.
Arguments went on further, as teachers complained, when you had a class full of
books covered in (IT) your class took on the aroma of a boy’s locker room.
We talking pure unadulterated funk, and that’s funk after a week’s worth of
I sat quiet and attentive, stuffing my face with filé gumbo and bread pudding.
Auntee prided herself on how the Bantu Knots she had just twisted into my hair
were crocheted in no better form than the ones the sistah on the cover
of my journal wore. “Man I kilt that lil niece,”
Teety gloated, handing me a mirror.
“Talk to me now, what it say to ya?” I told Auntee her hands were FIRE.
When I looked into the journal’s vermillion background, behind
the image of a black girl probably my age, she looked real intergalactic.
Constellations dangling from her Bantu Knots. She was lit too.
Her T-Shirt read “Black Girl Magic is my DNA.”
I kept thinking we could pass for twins, me and the girl.
Her magic wasn’t no realer than mine.
Teety, breaking my concentration, leaned in whispering in my ear
“You know if you want, after the funeral… Sometime tomorrow before yawl
head back to North West Louisiana, we can design you a shirt just like hers.
Me and you can design together, wouldn’t that be nice.
I know you got the skills to do it on your own but…
It would be fun to show you whose side of the family
your skills REALLY come from.”
Teety and I laughed and then she gave a kiss to my crown.
Her kiss tickled my scalp for hours as I slept in the home of my mother
and her mother before her.
I told myself, I should probably never take my hair down-
not even to wash it.
I was afraid, the love I felt in my veins,
might seep into the Red River and drown.
That night I dreamed of all Auntee’s love, having somehow
morphed into monarch butterflies.
MY butterflies, liberated souls, released from MY Bantu Knots.
MY butterflies, their outstretched wings, were abandoning me.
My butterflies, were leaving me alone and forgotten.
I was displaced
in of all exit’s God’s Country;
better known as
Elm Grove, Louisiana.