Dear Angela Davis,

No one stays in 1970 forever     but I hope you haven't cut your hair.
At every Panther rally     your silhouette was easy to pick out.
Kick ass hair.                   Black is beautiful hair.        I dare you hair.
I wanted to dare to be you       the tall woman center stage
before the microphone                         under a shrubbery of electric halo.
When you spoke I swear lightning flew off you.

I wanted to be a panther         not the rabbit I was on the Chinese placemat
with spider webs for hair.     I wanted to crown myself with a dense Afro
                          like yours, Angela.

Your fro was such a coronet of disrepute in my family's eyes—
I had to get me one.

With hair like that, no one would ever mistake me for tame

but my hair would not cooperate

it would not grab pens or combs         and barely rubber bands.
Even flowers slid to my shoulders.

I wanted your dynamic hair, Angela, that scared old white people
with its bigness         its arc of perfection.
It showed them what could happen       to hair     when it's left
                                                                                              and angry.

You were the Statue of Liberty to me, Angela Davis,
what my country
                               could stand for. Like her, you're still holding a book,
but you've got a mighty fro
and instead of a torch                  your fist burns in the air.

With respect,
Elizabeth Kerlikowske