You walked the earth deliberately, solid-thighed, heavy-treaded, laden with Koran, Langston Hughes and oranges, gifts of work and words for anyone in need.
Transplanted to DC, you stayed rooted in North Carolina soil, something sweet, aroma of molasses and sugar hanging round your neck.
We talked endlessly in your overheated cell (sometimes without words), reveled in remembering Malcolm X, Myrlie Evers, Angela and Assata, read our calendar every day, shared what we knew, tolled the births and deaths of heroes and heroines, learned to celebrate the women.
You were burdened by the weight you always worried about, never had time to lose. (I wondered how you managed to gain, always giving away your food to anyone who was hungry.)
Ripped apart by prison transfers, a year later you joked on the phone that AIDS had finally resolved your weight problem.
Your voice grown thin and reedy through the wires while you lay wasting still whispers in my memory of your decision to die, unable to love yourself as well as you loved the rest of us. “She won’t eat,” the nurse complained.
Now the weight problem is mine, my heart too heavy for my chest to carry. As usual, you were quite fearless, capable of handling your own death, while I, two years later, am still trying to lose this stone of grief.