Metaphors matter, and metaphors carry multiple meanings. Think of how Jesus will wash our sins “as white as snow.” Facing freshly fallen snow, the metaphor is beautiful. But in the face of racism and white hegemony it can breed self-hatred amongst sisters and brothers of colour.
Now think about darkness. A universal metaphor for life without light, life without clarity and direction. So we ‘kick at the darkness’ and insist that light is stronger than darkness. All true. And yet, metaphors are never neutral. What does it mean to vilify darkness if your skin is dark? How do we respond to darkness during Black History Month?
Jacqueline Daley, a member of the Wine Before Breakfast community has been asking this profound question. Out of deep struggle and communal conversation she has decided that it is time to celebrate the darkness.
This is the full text of Jacqueline’s powerful five part poem “Darkness Goodness.”
by Jacqueline Daley
Part I: We Began in Darkness
It all began in darkness
In the beginning the earth was a formless void
Darkness covered the face of the deep
In darkness the Creator God dwell
Thick canopy darkness surrounded God well
Righteousness and justice the foundation for all to tell
From formless darkness God’s creative genius held power
From dark voidness God’s omnipotent power tower
From deep darkness God summon lightness
Darkness birth lightness
Light for the day; dark for the night
Darkness and lightness to dwell together
Both equally good to elevate God’s power, none lower
God formed man from dirt darkness
God formed woman from dark dirt man-ness
Together man and woman flaunt God’s wholeness
Made and created in God’s image and likeness
God’s dark dirt male and female-ness
You see in darkness we originate
To darkness we will finally immigrate
In darkness our seed got planted
In the wombs’ darkness we are fearfully, wonderfully crafted
Part II: Darkness is Freedom Seekers Friend
A darkness that could be felt covered Egypt so the Hebrews could flee
From bondage the Hebrews were led safely through the Red Sea
From deep darkness God’s voice would be
From thick darkness God summoned Moses who could not see
In thick darkness the covenant was chiselled on stone tablets for free
To deep darkness Harriet and all freedom seekers continue to flee
Away from bondage to claim their divine destiny
Who can deny darkness goodness?
When night’s darkness offers so many captives their liberty
To black Egypt the Hebrews fled from a famine’s dread
To Black Egypt an infant Savior was saved from Herod’s bloodshed
To keep the promise of holy nationhood
A kingdom of royal priesthood
A peculiar people-hood
To a dark grave our Savior King was laid
To offer salvation so all could be saved
To rise victorious over the grave
To be resurrected on the third day
Price for our sins, fully paid!
Part III: Darkness Isn’t Sin Twin
Who cloned evil in darkness?
When evil appears any time and in shade of day
God’s people sin in the dark night or broad daylight
Adam and Eve original sin was in bright sunlight
The food tempted was to their eyes’ delight
God confronted them in the cool evening breeze
While they hid covered with fig leaves
Cain must have killed Abel in the bright mid-morning light
We must resist the myth of slayer Cain dark mark sight
David committed adulterous and murderous acts
His sinful eyes guided by the bright afternoon light
Jesus, God’s only son, was crucified under soft sad morning light
While a blood thirsty crowd raged in sheer spite
Crucify Him!, crucify Him!
The ultimate sin committed in bright white daylight!
Let’s not forget Blacks like Nelson, Wangari, Rosa
Harriet, Malcolm, Garvey and King
These saints offered their Black lives to shine bright light on White sin
Enlightening the world to let freedom win
Reminding us: Black is not evil sin twin
So why all this demon blackness, darkness madness?
Perhaps to keep us locked in numbness blindness
Some sheltered in White-privileged spaces
To keep the rest of us enslaved in our places
Separated from the truth of how we are created
Fearfully made, wonderfully dark-dirt crafted
Part IV: Darkness is Rest & Passion Nest
In darkness love ignites, passion soars, lovers unite
In darkness we retreat for our deepest best rest
In darkness we see our true selves best
In darkness all God’s creatures find food for their nest
Who can exist without darkness goodness?
Prayer and deep meditation is with closed-eye darkness
Earth day darkness we now venerate
For redness, yellowness, blackness, whiteness, lightness
Oh goodness! even darkness, are gifts from an All -Wise God we must celebrate
Part V Forgive Our Colour-Coded Limitedness
God’s creative genius shines brightest in darkness
God offers treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places
Dark is as light to God as night is as day
Bless the lord of light and dark
Bless God’s holy name
Lord teach us to know and be still in your deep darkness
Where God’s light shines brightest
Lord forgive our colour-coded limitedness
Our narrow mindedness worldliness
Our sin-stained humanness
Free us from our White privileged blindness
Heal our wounded red, yellow, black and white-ness
Restore us to your wholeness
We long for your holiness
7 Responses to “Darkness Goodness :: Full Text”
Thank you my friend Jacqueline for wise words long delayed spoken; words we’ve grumbled and wrangled with but never thought spoken, but now awokened, let us run as time now quickened to the one humanity our friend Bob and others long ago and now remembered, again spoken.
Beatiful peace! never knew you had such a talent. important questions voiced. Thank you for starting the conversation. BC
Barnabas!! Nice to see you, if only online. Yes, this is an important conversation, and as a white guy, I’m very grateful to our sister for her profound and beautiful reflection. Jacqueline tells me that she hasn’t written poetry in a very long time. Looks like she should start up again. A wonderful gift.
I am blown away, my friend thank you for the gift of poetry to me and all mankind. What are you doing at housing; you should spend all your time writing and enrich our lives. I read it many times and I have enjoyed more every time. Thank you for the wonderful gift.
I was always keenly aware of the wonderful gift you posess as an insightful black woman, i enjoyed your peom imensely and I want your permission to use it in discussion wiht my church group some of whom are obsessed with blackness/darkness as not worthy. Jacqueline keep writing.
your dear friend :
Rev. Sky Starr
This poem hits home for me on a number of ways. For the past week, I have been working with the family of 15year old St. Aubyn Rodney, who was shot February 11th, He was the 2nd. 15 year shot and killed in
Toronto, within weeks. As a minister, I am overwhelmed with grief, and the effects it’s having on youth, families and the communities. The family needs some financial support and emotional support. Please contact [email protected] to help if you can. Thank you Jacqueline for the effective expressions of the darkness that is threatening to engulf our city.
Eunadie, you are welcome to use the poem to continue this conversation. Rev Sky, God bless you for the hard work you continue to do to stand with families wounded by gun violence. My heart is heavy with grief. I am longing for relief from news of another youth shot dead and another hunt for shooter and witnesses. Lets keep the families of St Aubyn, Tyson, Kesean and Jarvis 4 children whose lives ended so tragically and prematurely by gun violence in GTA, in our thoughts and prayers. Please let me know when and where is the funeral. I will email for support. If anyone else is able, please do likewise as there is little relief for poor families to bury loved ones. Shalom