For me, being in the corporate world was a culture shock.
I knew it required a level of assimilation and that I had signed up for this (and paid tens of thousands of dollars to do so).
The more I assimilated, the more I felt I lost pieces of myself.
These past 5 years have been an exercise in coming deeper into knowledge of self and showing up and living more authentically.
To borrow a quote from Marianne Williamson:
“Your playing small does not serve the world.”
This week, I want to share this poem behind the “Twisted Gold” Art Print and the accompanying video with you:
“Twisted Gold” by Nikki Murphy
the office dress code is business casual
my pants are civil, dependable, grey
the shirt, once a flirty tangerine,
is now a faded hue of her fiery self
like brown skin that’s lost its luster
beneath the white cast
of UV protection
but these earrings,
they do not fade
they are real
twisted and dangling
against my face
are all I own that feels like me,
like the me I don’t want to forget.
when my twisted gold earring falls
onto the subway tracks
at 53rd & Lex, I know
it is gone forever.
I imagine the rats make a god of it
bow their pointy noses in worship.
In mourning, I remove the other idol
and place it in my bag.
and at home, in a drawer
and when I move, it moves with me
from the attic apartment in Queens
where I can hear the mice in the walls
searching for a god to worship.
to the 3rd floor walk-up in Brownsville
where the loss feels heaviest
to the home on Long Island
with three bedrooms and two baths
and one earring in the nightstand,
a reminder that I am a Black woman
who never wants to lose herself
in business casual
in the big city
on the train tracks
to the starving rats
who idolize twisted
and dangling gold.
Do you have trinkets, sentimental items, or security blankets that you hold on to that remind you of the pieces of you that you never want to forget as you navigate the world?
Please comment or email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) with what your item is and why it is special. I’d love to compile and share responses anonymously.
May we all continue living and loving as our truest selves.
I’m rooting for you!
P.S. Remember to use ARTSY2022 for 10% OFF any art prints (Nikki-murphy.com/shop) through the end of April 2022.
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Monique "Nikki" Murphy is the author of the award-winning poetry book, Home For Hurricanes, an inspirational narrative poetry book, and designer of the "Refined" Art x Poetry Collection of African American-inspired wall art. “Refined” is a love story that captures the extraordinary elegance in the ordinary adornments sported by black women and girls.