Time Traveling Box and the Moonpit: Inspired by a Generous and Kind Woman and Audre Lorde’s poem “The Black Unicorn”

India ink and watercolor on paper

 At the rummage sale, that day, the kind and generous woman would never have known that she gave me the tools to time travel.

Audre Lorde’s poem The Black Unicorn caught me, as some poems do. While reading the poem, I felt as if I could taste it, as if I were breathing the air in which it existed. 

The Black Unicorn belonged to a collection of Lorde’s poems, the book came from a woman I connected with at a rummage sale. When she saw I had books on philosophy, feminism, and poetry, and learned I was madly in love with Virginia Woolf, she said she had a box of books for me.

In the box, full of books on women’s and gender studies, was a history. I later learned that most of the books had belonged to the generous and kind woman’s mentor who died of cancer. Inside the books were highlights, underlines, and marginalia from readers with different pens and thoughts, from different times. 

As I read the box’s words, stories, and poetry I was experiencing them along side everyone who had read the books before me: I was time traveling without moving an inch. At the rummage sale, that day, the kind and generous woman would never have known that she gave me the tools to time travel.

Along with the ability to traverse through time, I was given the gift of a friend—the generous and kind woman and I still share stories and books—and a mentor. Before the box of books, I did not know Audre Lorde. After the box of books, Audre Lorde became a foundational part of my creative life.

Her essays in Sister Outsider guide me though the changing and sometimes overwhelming space of young womanhood in this time. Her words, her thoughts, open up the richness of our insides to meet what the world has to offer. To choose wisdoms from Sister Outsider, would discount the rest, you’ll just have to experience it for yourself. In the meantime, 

The Black Unicorn 
by Audre Lorde

The black unicorn is greedy. 
The black unicorn is impatient. 
‘The black unicorn was mistaken 
for a shadow or symbol
and taken
through a cold country 
where mist painted mockeries 
of my fury.
It is not on her lap where the horn rests 
but deep in her moonpit 
The black unicorn is restless 
the black unicorn is unrelenting 
the black unicorn is not 

300 days done, 65 to go.

Posted by:Nadia Daniels-Moehle