Karen Wangare Leonard
Someone Told Me That God is a White Man
I grew up hearing that I was made in God’s image.
But everywhere I looked
God’s son was a white man
and my mirror told me I was anything but that.
I pleaded with my skin to be anything but dark
and I tried to be a man of God.
I was never white enough to be pure
or man enough to see the reflection of God.
I was not Godly.
But as I aged, I found out that God is love.
Even on the margins
God is the angry black woman
fearfully sending her sons out
demanding justice for the ones that never returned.
God is the mother at the border
her child torn away.
God is the child in a cage
becoming a mother to another.
God is the sister fighting for equal pay
and the daughter looking for a way to break the glass ceiling.
God is the giver of life
and ain’t that the most female thing you have heard?
The mother, daughter, sister, friend.
Are we not just as Godly as the man?
God whose son was killed on the cross.
Black and brown bodies suspended in the air
Ain’t that a reality for people of colour?
Somehow we have made God into a specific image
and anyone who does not look like him
is cast out.
inside jail cells
in the kitchen of houses determined force them to stay less than.
So when we are told to go back to where we came from
we will return to God.
Dragging our weary feet
carrying our brokenhearted.
We will leave and find out God was a lot closer
than the world wished us to know.
Karen Leonard is a young Kenyan-American poet currently living in Virginia. Born in Kenya and adopted as a baby, Karen has spent her life traveling between Kenya and Virginia. After her
high school graduation she moved to Oregon for nine months before returning to live in
Harrisonburg, VA. Karen attributes these moves to shaping her world view and molding her into
the writer she is today; she writes unapologetically about who she is growing to be and what she is learning in the process.
She recently self-published her first book of poems, Lightning From her Fingertips, available on her website. When Karen is not writing she is working full time, playing soccer, riding horses, and painting. She is always open to new experiences and big adventures. This is evident in her writing and in her life experiences. Karen is eager to continue growing and writing and sharing her words with the world.
Follow Karen on her social media channels
THE RESILIENT KIND
They said a storm was rolling in tonight and we must watch out for flash floods.
When I was young, I would open my windows and invite the storm in.
I’d dare the thunder to call my name and pray for sunny skies to follow.
When the storm had passed, I would go outside to my garden and pick up my sunflowers, drenched from the rain.
I would curl my toes in the mud
and coddle the earthworms
while singing to the bees to come visit.
And when the sun would make its appearance
I would hold my flowers high, begging the beams to kiss their faces.
See, the sunflowers-- my love-grown, hand-picked, close-enough-to-touch-from-my-window-sunflowers were the resilient kind.
Let the storm roll in tonight.
I will be waiting at my open window.
Part woman, all storm.
The thunder-coursing-through-my-veins, lightning-on-my-fingertips type: the resilient kind
THIS HOMECOMING OF SORTS
This homecoming of sorts
lights my heart on fire.
My bones sing
when they return under Kenyan clouds
and African sun.
This sky has known me since birth.
The sun tickles the corners of my mouth
daring me to call out to the light.
It asks me why I ever ventured away so far
to live under a different sky
that I can only pretend to know so well.
I will return.
My lungs can never get their fill of this air.
My feet yearn for the ground
and my heart knows I can never truly leave.