Since my uncle, Raf Robertson, died in December 2015, I have not publicly shared any tributes to him. My grief surrounding his death has been personal. In honor of World Poetry Day, I decided to share a poem from my notebook and as I was reading through it, remembered that I had written many poems in the months following his passing. Grief and death aren’t exactly what you may have expected under the Happy World Poetry Day banner, but Raf’s departure is still very much to the forefront of my existence and still painful to broach…editing this poem though reminded me of his greatness.
Voyage to India: Thanks, Raf
When you don’t cry everyday you begin to believe you’re coping
Then one morning, on the 3-month anniversary of your uncle’s death,
you’re preparing for an interview and primping to Acoustic Soul as you
get dressed – by the 5th time Video replays, you know you’re a Queen;
are confident in your unshaved calves and nail-polish-less nails
but when you remember that it was Raf who found 12-year-old you
at home listening to Foxy Brown one afternoon and said, “nah man”
then went back outside, pulled India.Arie out of his Camry’s CD deck
and shoved the still-warm disc into your hands in his stern, benevolent way,
saying, “This is what you should be listening to,” you bawl –
because this is how you learned about India and because in his eyes
you could do so much more than dare rap bitches to mention your name.