I have listened to Ben LaMar Gay's new album, Open Arms to Open Us, many many times over the last few months, and I can tell you that this is an album that rewards you on each successive listen. It deepens. It reveals. It opens.
I'm honored to have a small part in this record in the form of a poetic interlude, I Once Carried a Blossom. BLG invited me to write something for the album and though I hadn't read his prologue at the time, this bit from it perfectly encapsulates what he offered me as inspiration:
All I could think about was my nieces and nephews… blood and beyond. If they ever look back and wonder what their uncle/their messenger was thinking about during this interesting time or rotation of the earth, I want them to know that I was thinking about them, the future of this circle, the future of this curiosity, the future of this exploration. I spent my time believing in them.
As a mother, I now often think about the moments when I thought of my child before he was born. In the instance of this poem, I imagine my late grandmother as a young woman dreaming of and blessing me.
Before I learned your name,
I once carried a blossom
from the yard to the house.
In the sun I sat, dreamed
of you in each soft petal.
I touched it to my face
then you were revealed.
Though I am now gone,
find me near the dirt, amongst the thatch.
Find me in that low flower,
your soft blessing; we grow to guide you.
Thank you Ben for the opportunity to write this small blessing for your album and for transforming it with your horn. Thank you for letting it invoke the otherworldly piece that follows, In Tongues and In Droves. I'm truly honored to have a place in this work amongst so many badass artists like Ayanna Woods, Tomeka Reid, Angel Bat Dawid, Dorothée Munyaneza, Ohmme, and more.
Please check out this album — if you like it on first listen, just know that you will only love it more and more.
Congrats, BLG! You're brilliant in every sense.