Stacie McCall Whitaker - Stone Coast, Maine

I Embrace You

Written By: Amanda Johnston

          After Joy Harjo

I embrace you,
my difficult and bright yellow joy.
I embrace you.
You are my dusk and dawn anew.
I know you, my reflection
my face.
I embrace you
with arms
I would open
to a lover and a friend.
You are my beating heart.
I take you for the innocent
who scream happiness
loud as cannon fire.
I take you in my mouth,
clean water runs through
my veins.
I embrace you, joy,
as you were born
in my likeness, through hands
welcoming touch.
I embrace you.
I embrace you.
I embrace you.
I am not afraid to know sorrow.
I am not afraid to feel pain.
I am not afraid to laugh.
I am not afraid to sing.
I am not afraid to be other.
I am not afraid to be here.
I am not afraid to be light.
I am not afraid to dance.
To dance.
To dance, joy,
you have spun me
and I showed you my waist.
You have held me
and I release all of my weight.
You have cried with me
and I watch our water join.

I give myself to you, joy.
You are the light on my face,
the magic behind my eyes,
my ears, my voice, my belly
my heart, my heart, my heart, my heart, my heart.

Come here, joy,
I am alive!
And you are the reason why.

About the Author

Amanda Johnston earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. Her poetry and interviews have appeared in numerous online and print publications, among them, Kinfolks QuarterlyMuzzlePluck! and the anthologies, Small Batchdi-ver-city and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. The recipient of multiple Artist Enrichment grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Christina Sergeyevna Award from the Austin International Poetry Festival, she is a member of the Affrilachian Poets and a Cave Canem graduate fellow. Johnston is a Stonecoast MFA faculty member, a co-founder of Black Poets Speak Out, and founding executive director of Torch Literary Arts.

Facebook: /poetamandajohnston
Twitter: @amejohnston