Lucy Flattery-Vickness

Lucy Flattery-Vickness is an 18 year old freshman further honing her craft at UCLA. She writes to understand the world around her, to process the city-streets that are her sustenance. In Oakland, her home, she has grown into shoes sewn with dichotomies, and witnessed how injustice, harmony and gentrification live around the block from each other. She is an Oakland native and part of many worlds: athlete, young woman, poet, public-schooler. These communities have given her a collective sense of duty to take the dancing tongue she was born with and put it to good use.


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Grandmama

by Lucy Flattery-Vickness, age 16


My grandmother
at five feet, skin like the back of a leather belt, heart like infinity
was a church
And by church I mean a holy sanctuary
I mean
Let me tell you about my grandmother

Her face was a ledger, crisscrossed with
99 years eyes
Were the kind that drank up the world
Her laughter filled rooms
And her god-bless-you’s
Blanketed everyone
Let me tell you about my grandmama

As a black girl in North Carolina
1916, nobody bothered to record
Her birthdate
Her first breath was taken by bigotry yet history
Shaped this woman into a gold plated,
Stained-glass pulpit where
Thousands would come to taste but one piece of my grandmama’s grace for themselves

my grandmama’s faith was bullet proof
Early on, she learned to spin dirt-caked love
Into gossamer spider webs
So she could wrap up those she loved
And keep us safe from mob mentality
my grandmama’s faith was bulletproof
like the bulletproof she hoped her god-bless-you’s
made her grandsons bulletproof
Bravery
Planted seeds that grew wings
From between my grandmama’s shoulder blades

She relocated from the comfort of
Southern fried food
To the cold dawns
Of Long Island
Where she became the mother of 2 White, Jewish children
Where she became the lifeline for two white jewish children
While sending kisses wrapped up in
Confliction home to her black baby

Let me tell you about my grandmama
And her immovable will
And the way her heart fitted-sheet stretched around the world
And back for her 3 babies

I heard stories
About the mothers who kept their kids
Away from the home with the Help
I wiped tears
Away from the windows of a stained glass sanctuary
With my childlike ignorance whispering
Grandmama, grandmama, grandmama

My grandmama bridged a color crisis
She stitched two worlds together with
Her sinewy back
She arched her spine so that both worlds
Could be carried side by side
With room to grow up
Hand in hand

My grandmama had
3 children
11 grandchildren
And 20 great-grandchildren
That suckled wisdom from her well-worn bosom
My grandmama
Was the kind of woman
Who ground music into my ashen feet
So that when I danced the stars would listen

The kind of woman
Who wiped the Milky Way across my chest
So the children who nursed from my breast
Would already know what an imploding star
Feels like

The kind of woman
Who fed me a thunderstorm
So that when I stand alone, naked and bitter,
Trying to wipe my guilt and ancestry off me
She can whisper, remind me that
Somewhere, someone is being struck
By lightning

The kind of woman
Who held my hand
to make sure I never forgot what black and white
Look like next to each other
And then kissed each freckle on my face
Telling me
To thank a higher power for my sight

My grandmama knew the truth about the color crisis
She knew you could kiss the hate away if
You started early enough
She knew that pigmentation was permanent
But not a scar

She knew that the second half of her family tree
Leapt across barriers with the blessings of their visage
My grandmama sat atop a gnarled, knotted Mahogany throne,
and reminded me, reminded us

That offering up ones spine was not good enough
Told us that the least we could do
Was watch our utterance
Wash off the bitterness
Wind through the world with our shoulders back
Just far enough
and crawl back to the stained-glass, gold-plated sanctuary often