for the past few years,
i have looked at my body with disdain–
blamed it for inexplicable pain,
glances from creepy men who refused to break stares
even after i shot the dirtiest of daggers with my eyes to say,
“get away from me.”
i have tugged my love handles unlovingly,
stood in the mirror jiggling parts
i’m too shy to mention through poetry,
cursed my skin for getting dry and scaled in the winter,
wished i was thinner,
wished i could trade this black woman body
for that of a girl named Molly
(with a big-enough booty to keep her warm on cold days),
wished bra shopping didn’t frustrate,
but now i recognize all the self-hate and laugh.
today, i look at this body
and see how much God loves me–
so much so that he hand-crafted me,
sculpted me without straight lines.
i am His design,
i am that divine living representation of Him.
i admire my skin
and every limb and curve it touches.
now when curious eyes land on me,
i smile to myself,
put myself in their shoes,
knowing that if i saw such a creation,
i’d stop and look too.
i still shiver
when fingers touch my neck without forewarning.
if a man tries to whisper in my ear,
my body freezes
like the temperature just dropped.
this body used to be
raw honey for black tea,
good music for a weary soul.
my voice used to sing simple songs
about my day or foods i like.
but this tongue grew numb
and i still get nervous
when the weight i purposely gained
i’m still suspicious of strangers;
plot escape plans
when i walk in alleys alone:
if i’m wearing heels,
i practice in my head
how i’ll stab a crazy man in the eye;
if wearing boots,
i plan to knock him down, stomp, and run;
if any other shoes,
then knee must be used.
all this preparation for a woman
who’s never been attacked by someone she didn’t know;
all these thoughts of violence for a woman
who thought love conquered all.
but i had one failure,
trusted when i should’ve been cautious,
stayed when i should have left,
entertained when i should have ignored…
and sometimes i still
pain, cramping, bloating;
blood clots, tear drops, emoting;
gas pain, headache, egg waste.
void of child and patience;
one more month of freedom;
emotional clock still works
(strong batteries run in my family).
caged body, sweaty forehead, foreign smell;
gross-feeling, penis-envying, horny as hell;
quiet, reflective, sensitive.
28 days are not long enough.
7 days are just too much.
but at least I’m still young enough–
either that or life has a slow way of catching up.
whatever it is,
whenever it is this time of the month,
my heavy breasts make my heart sink a little;
each body part that once was little
grows before my eyes
as my capacity to deal with it all shrinks.
potential life exits
only to recreate its possibility
again and again.
i resisted you for a while
and now that i’m letting you back in,
you seem to flood and nourish my insides
like much-needed rain.
old tricks no longer put me to sleep–
fingers can get sticky
and room can begin to fill with
aromatic citrus sweet musk;
body can relax,
but mind and heart fills up
now that my midsection is no longer concave
and my abs have relaxed and settled into a belly,
i find my reflection less appealing.
i used to take pride in mirror glances
and secret naked dances,
but now i change the subject quickly
after catching a glimpse of my nude body
after showers or other clothe-less activity.
regardless of how things might end up,
i’m thankful for now;
for my smile and the awakening
in my soul and body,
body and soul;
for jazz tones traveling up my spine
and dancing out of my mouth
through colorful, raucous laughter.
the world becomes pink and blue
as energy mingles together
in a soft purple violet
needing to be watered.
hardened as i may try to be,
i can’t run away from the fact
that i am in fact,
i am strong without a doubt,
able to do whatever i set my mind to,
but inside i am soft as tissue,
sensitive like scarred skin,
delicate as seraphim and cherubim
and spend my energy cherishing
everyone around me.
sometimes the weather gets cloudy
and i forget my anatomy,
think i have pecs instead of breasts,
a mustache above my lips,
and a voice deep and rich as chocolate.
but i am not this basic idea or definition.
i am the kiss on your forehead when your confidence is missing.
i am the gentle touch when trouble gets to be too much
and the loving ear that will always be there.
i am the mirror on the wall that tells you all,
the pep in your step to take you from one success to the next.
i am a woman,
mother of creation,
removed from your rib so that your stomach is a little empty
so that when you get hungry, you’ll know that you need me.
i am the appetizer, main course, and dessert,
the one that you love but still tend to hurt,
the one who loves you but still likes to search
for herself outside of your help.
i am not the same as you.
we complement each other like orange and blue,
like honey and dew,
sweet and tickling.
oh, what a feeling
to stop pretending
and start claiming