Darice Jones and Quinzee the Artist

Quinzee the Artist
Inspiration piece

By Darice Marcella Jones


The earth was scorched
And I couldn’t bare to look at our seeds

Even though I was well aware of the tall, majestic trees
and nourishing foods they were destined to become

They reminded me of the fire that had warmed us, then sometimes burned too hot, leaving a mix of love and fear in its wake
In our Fire’s presence – comfort and awe
In our Fire’s absence – cold and curiosities

I was too exhausted from running after the fire went out
to take to the air
Although I knew I could fly as a way to breathe anew
When I reached the shores where Adina sang about freaky secrets and king Luther swam around humming in glitter
A wave reached out and grabbed me into its giggly, warm swirl

The waters rocked me back and forth in 5 stages

Closest to the shore was an unbearable blend of shock and denial
Where water spirits sang to me but I could not hear them
They surrounded me touching me, head-to-toe, but I could not feel it
Even energies from other realms moved along all of my senses one-by-one
But I could not process their presence. How could anything at all be present without our Fire?

Embodying my loss, I moved from feeling nothing to filling myself up with hot rage
I became the flame
Touch me if you want, but you may not survive
And why should you when She didn’t?
And why should anything when She didn’t?
I breathed out like a dragon and watched people, animals, plants, and sand dissolve into ash


I saw her before me like an apparition, shaking her head and She spoke with her usual humor and sarcasm
“So you just gon’ burn everything that’s keeping you alive?”
We locked eyes at the door between this life and the next and burst out laughing
…as though there was no door
No life, no end of life, no fire, no water, no air, no earth, no distance between us
As we had since we were small children all the way up through the day She walked through that door
And hearing Her giggle again – suddenly my rage shifted a bit

Out further from the shore it occurred to me to call on Yemaya
Surely she and her siblings could do something for me and mine
I offered up all of my humblest savings
I offered my skin
My creativity
My voice
My past
and my future
for one more chance to live alongside my first friend on earth
With eyes like mine and mine like hers
But Yemaya’s only reply was the song of the sea
that pushed me out far and deep, with no land visible in any direction
She stopped me from swimming and I floated way out like a buoy adrift
Feeling only her smooth dark brown hands up under my back
She struck no bargain, so her song left me hollow

And hollow became my new best friend
After all, what is depression but the embrace of sadness?
Giving in and letting the hurt have the password to enter
Rewiring your brain for new depths of despair
Even as you hear those who love you calling out, risking themselves to cross the divide
There’s a relief that comes from finally allowing yourself to believe the worst
If it is true then maybe the losses don’t really matter
If it is true then maybe this pain is insignificant
Maybe we’re all just little gnats buzzing around waiting for something bigger than ourselves to smash us to bits
I don’t know when the hand moved from up under my back
Or when I began sinking
But there was something so cool about seeing nothing but blue

Then the seeds floated from out of my pocket and I remembered a promise I made to our flame
To protect them
To make sure they landed in just the right climate for each
To watch them grow into majestic trees
To watch them grow into lush fruits and lavish veggies that would feed our whole family
To sing to them a fire song when they were cold
An earth song when they felt untethered
An air song when they forgot they could fly
And make sure they never drowned oceans of despair
Without thought I swam around gathering them back together
Something about taking one small but vital action
Made me see the path back to living again

Finally, I could feel our fire in the sky beaming at us
A sun
Never absent
Never too far to feel
With us forever
Laughing at me and with me while I replanted our seeds
Laughing at me and with me while I bungled many other things
Laughing at me and with me while I was chased by 5-0
Laughing at me and with me, now, back at the shore.

By Darice Marcella Jones
In the Year of Chinua Achebe © 2023


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