Emergence Magazine

She Who Builds With Her Hands Makes Herself King, I, by Sydney Cain


by Marlanda Dekine-Sapient Soul


Marlanda Dekine-Sapient Soul is a poet, social worker, and fourth-generation descendant of Black land stewards living on family land in Plantersville, South Carolina. She is the author and recording artist of i am from a punch & a kiss. Marlanda is the founder of Speaking Down Barriers, co-founder of Writers Well Youth Fellowship for Black femmes, and has served communities as a child therapist, crisis therapist, community trainer, and as a child abuse forensic evaluator. Currently, Marlanda is pursuing her MFA in poetry and is serving as the 2020 Healing Justice Fellow with Gender Benders.


Sydney Cain, aka sage stargate, is a visual artist born and raised in San Francisco, CA. Through the mediums of graphite, powdered metals, lithography, dye, and chalk, their work reflects encounters with unseen realities and considers the intersection of urban renewal and displacement on the psychic, spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of marginalized communities. Sydney’s work has exhibited at Rena Bransten Gallery, SOMArts, Betti Ono, Ashara Ekundayo Gallery, San Francisco Arts Commission, and the African American Arts and Culture Complex.


When I visit cypress-kneed plantations on riverside back roads,

I ask the real Planter Class to tell me their names.


I go, and I tell all my dead to let loose,

to transcend illegible death. I know

I come from the real Planter Class:


                            this kind more likely to rise up
                            this kind more likely to take their own life
                            this kind more likely to take ours


I come from somewhere before writing, before lists.

In South Carolina, lists run long,

and I am from a list of unknowns.


Beneath my feet are children,

beloved and blooming white clovers,

a rooted song of fungi protecting my every step.


I know I come from the real planters. Real dark. Grave people.

My great-great granddaddy Friday’s cerulean

hands inside dirt life, not beating the Earth

for indigo, cotton, and rice industries.


I drive to Winyah Bay and watch a ship from 1526 roll in with nightingales

painted on its starboard. My great-great-greats are exalted

inside the international paper mill’s cloud.

They tell me not to be afraid to go far and find love.

So, I go.

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