Cindy is another poet I met at Table Rock Writers Workshop, this time while we studied with Phillip Shabazz. I was immediately taken by Cindy’s smile and laughter – which seem to be always just below the surface ready to escape, her eyes that often hold a mischievous shimmer, and the pure, nothing-held-back honesty of her poetry. Cindy is also an accomplished singer, a regular on the Murphy School Radio Show, so she brings a rhythm that sounds so natural, but it’s due to her use of language, her word choices, and the imagery she creates. A quiet wow was often our response after she read her poems.
In Cindy’s first collection, Naked, the title of the book appears in many forms in the poems – the act of being physically or emotionally exposed. There is such rawness and vulnerability in the narrators’s voices the reader may be uncomfortable, yet at the same time wanting to comfort. It’s a narrow space between the two but Cindy guides us through. With Cindy’s permission I’m sharing two poems from her collection. (The titles are bolded).
So here’s Cindy!
- Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote? How old were you? What was it about?
I don’t remember the name or exact content of the first poem I wrote, but I remember the creation. I was in elementary school, about nine years old, and my poem was lyrics with the tune in my head. My family’s life pretty much centered around our church, so the lyrics were faith-based. I remember sharing the song with a significant person in my life who told me that the song had already been written by somebody else.
- If you could share a cup of tea or coffee or raise a glass of wine with any poet, living or deceased, whom would it be?
I would love to sit with Amanda Gorman over a mug of tea. I think it would be a bitter, February day when we’d sit in my living room during the 2 p.m. bird gathering at the feeder. We’d wrap our hands around hot mugs and watch the birds come; we’d watch the birds go. We’d converse a bit, but mostly, we would quiet our thoughts.
when my oldest brother was killed
my mother’s bones began to deteriorate
sprinkled on the path like Gretel’s crumbs
they glowed silver in the gloom
my father was her buttress
they considered scenarios to unravel mystery
reveal the mastermind of the crime
I wove my grief with metallic fibers
shrouded it in my tapestry’s warp
my silk and wool weft mirrored for the public wall
when my youngest brother died, father had passed
mother’s bones disintegrated
grayish grit obliterated what remained of the path
her life stopped
I couldn’t ease her grief
my words, acts, prayers
she forgot to love me
I remember the last time I heard
my youngest brother’s voice
before he left me
this inadequate survivor
I comb through the worn picture albums
through faces left behind
sometimes I don’t remember where in my life they belong
some have absolutely disappeared
still, others reassigned
to another place
belong to someone else like the old dresses
who dance their debut at the second-hand shop
to punctuate the knowledge that my mind
its fingers through my memories
with promises of sunshine for my vacant corner shadows
when more awake
I whisper a prayer
that I’ll remember the person reflected in my mirror
and whether the faces belong to Palmer Avenue
Rural Route 6
or Westgrove Road
I won’t consign them to the rummage-sale table
Cindy B. Stevens ~ Naked
Available Main Street Rag Publishing Co.
And these two independent bookstores
Purple Crow Books in Hillsborough, NC
The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, NC