She Will Always Come on Time,

By Doriana Diaz

To my beloved community, in memory of bell hooks (1952-2021)


When I came across the news I remember exactly where I was; in my Germantown apartment. The bed was in an unusual place. My lover wanted to see how it could hold us in the middle of the room. We bickered back and forth about the lack of a wall on one side or if we should push it closer to the radiator. She wanted to be in the middle of the room, facing the window, so we could watch the sunrise, make love to the 6am symphony of goldfinches. When I finally gave into her desires, we laid, for hours, writing poems. And suddenly there it was – a rush of electric nerves and evaporating air. Mouth coated in rust, eyes unfurling. There was a bodily response, the taste of shock waves and sulfur. My lover held me, rubbed the edges of my hips, planted drops of kisses across the tip of my forehead, and called me a sweet baby. 


And the water rises. 


hooks, the great Black feminist writer, professor, and alchemist also known as Gloria Jean Watkins, died on Wednesday December 15th, at age 69, in Kentucky, where she was born. It wasn’t the idea of dying or how she moved beyond all of us in her own home, with all of those who had ever loved her by her side. It was the understanding that her hands weren’t hands anymore. They weren't the hands that could guide the pen to bring us all back to civilization. That time had ended.


                                                       And the water rises. 


In times like these, I turn to Song of Solomon, (Morrison 1977), when Reba and Pilate cry for mercy at the death of Hagar. Even in grief they make room to rejoice. They carve a place to celebrate all that was magnificent about Hagar. The final message they share is “she was loved”. We always cry, ache, and burn when a great heart, a great soul, a premier prophet from before her time reincarnates. As hooks declared herself “A body that knows how to die well, will know how to live well” (hooks, 72) The ritual dawning from the Black south proclaims human beings possess body, soul and spirit, and even when all life has gone from the body, the others will remain as a ripened home full of juju years. “It’s all right” as the old folks say, because those souls which have been planted, continue growing. There is a chance in her transcendence, that she will begin to dissolve into atoms, molecules, stardust urging us to open the closets of our minds, where we have hidden our ghosts away and claim the words to speak the truth of our reality. 


And the water rises. 


Upon writing this, I thought about how to rejoice as Reba and Pilate did. I thought back to Philadelphia, October 2015,  hooks walked herself into a crowed room of feminists. All of us with sap drenched lips, salivating for her soul cries. We came to her to get good and alive. I wondered if she grew up eating poke salad and carrying a switchblade in her bra, even to church. I wondered if she had visions of being an astronaut and touching the moon with the palms of her feet. I wondered what she wished she had or what she was most insecure about. She was an echo of a woman, dressed in what could have been blood. She confessed poems, holding centuries in her wrists. Seeing through the riddles, a feminie memory arose from the waters of distant shores. This Black woman poet, removing illusions, leading us through a collective unmasking. She scattered herself over the evening walls, she cleansed us all. hooks showed us what we do when we get together. 


And the water rises. 

The night I read Sisters Of The Yam for the first time the moon ate me whole.  It wrapped me inside a fluid holiness of spirits. The ancestors bound us together. I swallowed, got in touch, sang songs full of love. Blackblackblack blackkk black blackBLACK, moving the flesh slowly, praying the word would take me everywhere. Rather than drifting from home — she seemed always to be writing toward it. Her words redeemed me to sift through the dust and reclaim my own;  like how as a child it was inside of my grandmother's mouth. Detroit summers laughing into the clouds I called home. Once or twice it was Black women under the light of the moon running hands over every surface until we were raw and smelt of each other’s home countries. And then there was the bellybutton of the boy with the white mama. On that night, it became hooks reminding me of all the unlived lives in my veins. It was her who consoled me when the cancer came back. When grandma taught me to store all our memories behind my torso. With my tongue against the rigid caverns of my teeth, I heard her talk to God, asking for the light to spill over the things that ain’t been seen or the somethings that ain’t been born yet. She showed us the way to the moon, etched gently in amen over the clouds. She gave us the tickle. She brought us the poetry from the everyday kinfolk, wrapped in liquid, pulsing indefinitely, rendering every morsel with delight. She gave us the explosion. 


And the water rises. 


I just came from visiting her in the clouds, and now I am here, waiting for my land legs to kick in again. As I open my arms…. turn my palms up…. to be redeemed. I yearn for her, even with all the life drained from her body, I yearn for her to continue to point my hips toward home. She may not come when you call, but she will always come on time. 


And the water overflows.


Doriana Diaz. She Will Always Come on Time, is a personal testimony and exploration in homage to the writer, prophet, and alchemist bell hooks 


Doriana Diaz is a storyteller, shapeshifter, and sensitive spirit rooted in Philadelphia's soulful rhythms. Her words have appeared in platforms such as; 

Nappy Head Club, Black Women Radicals, GROW/N mag, allherwords, SYLA studio, We Heal Too, a.20 mag, Saddie Baddies, Black Girl Magik, The Kraal, and many more! Her writing is an exploration of cultural agency, archival documentation, and rhythms of resistance and expansion.



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