SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT...

“Children, I said to her. For the first little while, they not exactly human, you don't find?”
Nalo Hopkinson

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Phylicia Barnes and Poetry


It is difficult to describe the darkness that creeped into my mind and body after this lovely young girl/woman was found dead and naked not far from where I live.  I could not block the horror of what happened to her or my feelings of powerlessness.

Phylicia Barnes was sixteen years old, about to turn seventeen.  Girls at that age are energetic and intelligent, emotional and intutitive, idealistic and stubborn, irritable, sometimes surly, yet they are much more thoughtful than they are given credit for.  Many of them continually question the world around them, but nevertheless want to fit into it, and they like to giggle.  Teenaged girls have a kind of  loveliness to them; a sweet and fresh quality.  This poem by Gil Scott-Heron says it much better than I can:

A VERY PRECIOUS TIME
Was there a touch of spring?
Did she have a pink dress on?
And when she smiled, her shyest smile
Could you almost touch the warmth?
And was it your first love, a very precious time?

Was there the faintest breeze?
And did she have a ponytail?
And could she make you feel ten feet tall,
Walking down the grassy trail?
Was it your first love, a very precious time, time?

Now they got me trying to define, in later life
What her love means to me
And it keeps me struggling to remember, my first touch of spring.

Was there a touch of spring, in the air?
And did she have a pink dress on?
And when she smiled, her shyest smile
Could you almost touch the warmth?

Was it your first love,
A very precious, very precious, very precious time, time.
Written by Gil Scott-Heron


I will never understand how any human being could live with the fact that he or she hurt this beautiful child.  Hopefully, the evil human monster will be caught and not allowed to continue its violence and destruction.  Reading poetry lets me approach Phylicia Barnes from a different angle.  It helps me to see some of what she was instead of mostly focusing on what happened to her.  Even in death that young woman is influencing people for good.  I have read more poetry in the last month than I ever have in my entire life.

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