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On Preparation for a Life in Theatre [1]

by Judi Moore Latta

On Graduation to Your Future. (To Jaz)


(Three days before the murder of George Floyd)

You walked into our house carrying a potted basil plant

and I thought about Lorraine*…

Full of life and promise and hope and love

and more drama than a nation could understand.

Full of a family’s story welled up inside, straining to be released

on pages and stages, in hearts and minds.

Your basil plant was like Mama Younger’s…

Too precious to leave behind.

Too young to be forgotten.

Too sacred to be ignored.

You brought it because fumes from your stained floors were strong and it was fragile;

You brought it because surrounding space was vast and it was tiny.

You brought it because it was alive and needed attention.

You brought it because it craved sun and water, nutrients and care.

You brought it because you knew it would one day bring sweet flavor.

You have a heart that way; a gift that way; a calling that way.

You are open to speak what you see, do what you do and receive what comes.

Lorraine had prophetic vision… may you have it too.

Lorraine had language that pushed… may you have it too.

Lorraine had dreams that grew… may you have them too.

I pray that your plant will flourish and charge the universe …

and so will you.

Basil plant growing in a square, blue pot.
Jazmine's basil plant

*Lorraine Hansberry – (May 19, 1930 – January 12, 1965)

She died at age 34.

(About her, Nina Simone wrote “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black”)

(1) © Judi Moore Latta, 2020. Note: My granddaughter Jazmine—who aspires to study theatre and become an actor—and her parents came to spend a few nights with us in the middle of the pandemic. Their sojourn reminded me of “A Raisin in the Sun.” This poem addresses Jazmine and all the young people who walk carrying basil. Judi Moore Latta, Ph.D is a professor emerita of communications at Howard University, and an award winning journalist. She shared this poem as part of #BlackPlantLove for #BlackBotanistsWeek. Read more of her works at her website, Dr. Latta’s latest book is Beyond Roses -- An Obligation to Speak (Finding Voice for Conversations), a tool kit for having conversations across lines of racial division.


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