Dear Ossie, Dear Ruby,

-jessica Care moore

Dear Ossie, Dear Ruby,

Do you still put roses in her hair?

Do you still draw the clouds, and fluff them

for her head

Is the sun still sleeping in his eyes

Is heaven a place along his chest

Are you resting in a timeless embrace

Do you still make her laugh

Does it still matter


Do you still hold her hands like diamonds

hiding in palms from fingers

Is eternity inside his kiss

Do you tie his tie, adjust his chapeau

do you dance, in the morning

Does Amiri and Maya or Sekou visit

to drink grapes & share stories


Dear Ossie, Dear Ruby

Some of us dare to be the exception

dare to be conductors of black love

Do you still, love to be


while the world travels at full speed

how glorious to watch us attempt to

become the black doves you became.

do you still fly south for the winter

pick pecans & eat round sweet cherries

on a long wooden porch.

Dear Ossie,

thank you for your kind words in Harlem

when i nervously shared that stage with you

Dear Ruby,

thank you for your fearlessness & hard laugh

In the lobby of the Schomburg

You told me: “I slapped Denzel Washington

in American Gangster. It wasn’t in the script.”

I can hear your beautiful stutter — planned pauses

gracefully landing on your tongue.

eagle woman.

the morning of your funeral

I’d spent the evening celebrating our sister

Sonia Sanchez’s 80th birthday. I watched her and

Haki get in a car headed to Harlem.

I was in so much pain from losing Amiri.

I wasn’t ready to bury another legend.

Forgive me.

Dear Ruby

Dear Ossie

We know we are possible

we know we can be gazelles

on a planet surrounded by wolves

Is his voice the sound of water

Is her smile the perfect moonlight

Do you remember

when it was all a dream

do you still love to get on your toes

to reach his nose

kiss his neck

Is she still your Juliet, in a Spike Lee Joint

Is he still Da Mayor, Mother Sister


Dear Ossie,

Dear Ruby

thank you for loving us. Thank you for loving each other

So that we would see ourselves in your reflection

thank you for your life/work.

for your voices & bodies as gifts

now that you are true stars

can you see

you were our greatest wish?



From the forthcoming poetry collection, We Want Our Bodies Back, Moore Black Press, 2016.

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