I was recently introduced to the poetry of Diamond Forde. She writes about the female body. The black female body. Birth and death and periods and sex. She writes about pain. And healing.
And, while I do not presume to understand the experience being a black American woman, I can say that I know pain. In the soul. In the body. I can say that I struggle with forgiveness and knowing how to move on. How to find that balance between acknowledging the past but not getting stuck there. Moving on, yet not glossing over the truth of what happened.
In a recent interview, Forde explained that both truth-telling and joy were essential in her healing journey: When I choose joy, when I live within joy, I am also making a decision for my future and my past…the harm happened. There is no way of erasing that harm…but I can change the way that that harm impacts my future. With joy.
What does that mean? And how do I do it?
From what I understand, Forde’s understanding of joy does not advocate forgiving and forgetting. She advocates knowing. Documenting. And, as the title of her poem Rememory shows us, remembering (perhaps re-membering the body?) through the lens of joy. Not idiot-joy. Not oh well it wasn’t that bad joy. Or let’s just pretend it didn’t happen and sit around and smoke the peace pipe and let stupid people in my life who gaslight me-joy.
Forde’s joy is honest joy. Honest about the past, and honest about the responsibility one has now to create a better today and a better tomorrow.
And let’s be honest, I think there’s some stuff in the past we never completely get over. Really. It stays in the bones like that arthritic knee or broken wrist the doctors never set right that gets all achy when it rains. But I don’t have to let my achy bones and nighttime terrors make me bitter. Or mean. I don’t have to let them ruin my future.
As Forde writes in “Rememory”, …and the past haunts, but what’s the word for when it feeds on future, birds plucking days like muscats from the vine, and Alice knew the stories, black folks torn apart like fruit, but that was there, and here, each day she patched her wounds, pretends home whistles through her chest like a blade of wind.