Members and supporters of OKC Artists for Justice point to an Abraham Lincoln quote adorning the Oklahoma County Courthouse that says, "Learn the laws and obey them." (Valerie Rollins)

(Editor’s note: The following poem was written prior to the verdict in the Daniel Holtzclaw trial.)

For Pseudo-Gardeners
by Candace Liger

You may see a plant with black thorns
hiding purple flowers
You may gaze at her.
Then pluck her,
But her sharp points will
twitch & flinch
Like how muscle memory does.
And you…
You will always look backwards
as if those thorns weren’t looking at you…
as if this plant were illiterate to
to the politics of target practice.
She is the purple rose
with a hybrid echo
that calls upon every flower to move
in the way she does.
She be black womb
shocking you back through soul
Reminding you
-politely by comparison-
that to pick with such precision
you had to contemplate her hue.
You must have seen her alluring
before your hands..
your greed,
your privilege of power..
became physically autocratic in the laws
of nature.
But her roots have
never suffered from amnesia.
They may never have such luxury to
simply forget and just be.
They are dirty and twisted in some places.
Often intertwined with others.
May Grow in strange ways and foreign
Sometimes grow backwards.
… like some others do.
But tell me.
How many flowers did you pick?
How many dozens of her petals
will equate parallel your appetite
or….How many flowers does it take
to equal your dozen?
You may not care for that flower
or your hands any longer.
You may find her vulnerability disloyal.
Your wounds will not
time travel as you lay your tears
at the altar.
You should know this.
You should know…
The womb is not a wound.
Black womb is still a womb.
Purple flower is still matter.
It is not a burn with degrees of separation.
It is not an infliction or cry for attention.
It does not need your approval
to exist without bloodshed.
It can choose to become war when questioned.
It’s mahogany isn’t payment for unpaid debt.
It has no requirement to meet
your benchmarks
or your archetypes.
And while you’re bent over
making your pick
still looking backwards..
as you always do,
they may ask,
“How many flowers does it take
to equal your dozen?”
You should respond.
“More than 12.
Maybe more than 13.”

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