Cherise Morris is a writer and mystic from rural Virginia. Her essays have appeared in The Feminist Wire, Bustle, Fourth Genre, Longreads and The Iowa Review. Her 2017 essay, “blk_grls_x-ing,” originally published in Fourth Genre was selected as a notable work in Best American Essays 2018. She is based in Detroit, Michigan. 

detroit, She takes you in

She is a strong-armed Black woman with lines across Her face and battle marks like poetry down Her back, asking “what up doe, where yo soul?” She takes you in, “rest here my dear child, lay down your head, sweetness”  if only for a moment    She opens Her arms and holds you           there, a hollow womb ready to be filled with your pain and beauty. She bears the life of people who were meant to be forgotten but refuse to be erased    disappeared         dispossessed. In Her, they find home. Black magick women dance themselves down cracking sidewalks   Broken    congregating around park benches they sing out to you. The heartbeat of this city calls your name                    a lulla-bye        distorted. Broken records spin against the needles of still-playing turntables, reminding you to remember not just where you come from but where you goin to. Black cats jump from empty houses, once homes, laying tracks across your path. Black girls jump rope over trails of hollowed-out hearts                     growing into thick women in Her image. Their thighs put broken things back in place if only for a moment. Their footsteps write stories over freshly-painted crosswalks      the vestiges of shaking staircases     although they are almost never read. And She, stoic and unbreakable, radiant    Her      She calls your name through the fiercest winds and the quietest rains. She exalts you. She will always hold you even when wish not to be held because, She, is the wise one, erected on top of a salt mine, built to purify and protect. And you,        you build small walls around your heart                    still whenever She looks your way, they come tumbling down.                           And Resting against Her bosom or boney shoulder, feels like you found it    home. Her wide hips accept the things you won’t. Her gaze bores into you and you see yourself reflected in Her broad, selfless brown eyes. Around Her neck, an amulet of broken-off car parts, scrapped metal and jagged glass, draped like precious jewels. The coils of Her soft, wooly hair guard your deepest secrets. She wears a crown of amaranth and chicory, things others see as weeds         She puts to use. It was the worst of times                        still                      She takes you in. She conjures up magick potions    sprinkles holy water across the scene of the crime. She’s as Black as midnight with no moon shining wrapped in white cloths as She carries you across the threshold of abandoned train tracks. The outsides of Her hands tight and smooth like fine leather, the insides soft and dewy as morning’s breath,    your face cupped between Her palms. She takes you under, and through the filmy waters, you see Her imprint your memories across Her glowing skin and smile     She writes your story. She loves you deep.


She takes you in.


let me take u to the river's edge