Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “no

Never-Ending Poem


if i could spit a never-ending poem,
i would speak of black womanhood–
of a little girl whose dark-skinned father
looked at his dark-skinned seed and told her
that there’s a secret to erasing their skin:
“Here, wear this cream and the blackness will go away.
Boys will like you more and jobs will open doors
and people will let you in with smiles.”
i would speak of that little girl-child,
how she listened to her father
and observed her light-skinned, beautiful mother
and rubbed whiteness on her skin,
how lightness did not come,
but instead painful bumps and itchy rash
and tears in the mirror and her dad who said,
“Maybe that one was too strong. I will get you a gentler one.”
the girl who shook her head “No”
and accepted her darker fate…
kind of.

i would speak of that girl
who grew up with big titty-denial,
of the time her best friend pulled her to the side,
looked her in the eye
and told her “Your bra is too small.”
the girl who prayed and prayed for pubic hairs to grow,
who searched her mom’s medicinal herb books
for a recipe to start menses.
“Maybe if I drink a tea or take a vitamin,
blood will come and I’ll be a woman.”
blood came in its time
and so did boys
who ignored her face and got lost in her breasts.
as years went on,
they got lost in her booty, her hips.
more years went on
and they got lost in her smile, her eyes, her skin.
more years went on
and they got lost in her hair.
more years went on and they got lost in her “no”
that was too quiet.

i would speak of her insecurities
that helped men mold her like clay
into a woman who appeared strong with a mean face,
but crumbled like wet sand castles upon touch;
a woman who craved touch so much
that it hurt her
so she exchanged touch for God,
then back for touch,
then back for God,
then back for touch,
then traded it back for God,
and then back for touch,
and then back for more touch,
and then back for touch,
and then who was God?
there was only touch.
and then touch got too much
and then what was God?
and then touch fucked her up
and then where was God?
i mean “Who is God?”
i mean “What is God?”
i mean…”There is God!”
“Here is God!”
“Wait…where is God?”
i would speak of her questions
that rolled on and on,
her definitions that changed,
and how she got different,
but stayed the same.

if i could spit a never-ending poem,
i would speak of black womanhood,
of my own stories,
those of my sisters
and all the things we’ve seen,
felt, loved, cried over, laughed about,
screamed about,
of moments where death wasn’t near enough,
and then those times where love filled us up
but i’m afraid
time just isn’t enough,
our stories are too much,
my voice would dry up.

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The Power of “Yes”


your eyes reveal as you look down at me
that with your shy politeness,
you could give me
my “yes” back.
my “no” has been ignored in the past,
pushed down so far that screams turned into gasps
and fight melted into surrender,
but for some reason,
i don’t feel like fighting when i see you.
i feel like saying “yes”
and enjoying the way it comes off of my tongue,
how the middle of it raises to the roof of my mouth
to make the “y” sound
and how i have to open my teeth
and let a piece of you in for the “e”
and how my “s” turns to a smile
when you’re around.
yes,
i may let you in and
yes,
the spark in my eye was born when i saw you
and yes,
maybe one day i’ll whisper sweet somethings in your ear
and yes,
i might be silly and imagining that a connection is even here
for you to even ask a question
that would require a positive affirmation
but just in case you do,
my breath, my mouth and my soul
will be ready.


New Year’s Resolutions


i resolve
to be a woman.
i will not swoon from being called “beautiful.”
all i need to do is look in the mirror and it shows.
tell me something i don’t know.

i resolve to be a woman,
to let my “yes” be yes
and my “no” be no
and my “no” be “hell no”
if the hearer doesn’t show
thst they hear me
because i’ll be
a woman,
not a girl who acts without thinking
and who speaks without listening.

i resolve to be a woman,
one with estrogen and ovaries,
but i resolve
to grow a pair of balls,
both heavy and hairy
so that i will not choose to sit still
just because the future is scary.

i resolve
to resolve.
i resolve
to be.
i resolve to be a woman,
to be myself,
to be honest,
to be genuine,
to laugh loudly,
to cry fully,
to live with my suffering
because it’s part of being the woman
i resolve to be.


The Unheard “No”


*Written July 5, 2008*

she cried “No!” but her voice was not loud enough.
it was quieted by her past,
her first boyfriends who taught her how to kiss
and sneak into quiet staircases to explore her newfound womanhood.
her voice was clogged up by times she spoke and was told to shut up,
to quiet down because her opinion didn’t matter.
she was stifled by yesterday, drowned out by
the noise of moans of pleasure that came from relationships of pain.
she had learned to get used to her yells being whispers,
only to be heard by her and her alone.
she tried to turn her voice into subliminal messages,
tried to use facial expressions to convey what she really meant,
hoped that her body language would translate into
the denial, affirmation, confirmation or discomfort that she faced in daily life.
she thought that maybe she could get through life without speaking,
just holding onto the images of what she wanted,
afraid to verbalize them for fear that they would be
crushed, stomped upon, or thrown out in the garbage.
quiet was kind of okay after a while–
it made her seem mysterious, like a special box that needed to be opened.
but on that night when she said “No” because her box,
which was meant to be a precious gift, was being ripped apart,
she was not heard.
she tried to push past the raspiness in her throat
from unspoken thoughts and opinions
but nothing came out.
as she felt her canal widened with foreign flesh,
she wished that she had taken those opportunities in her past
to use her voice.
as sweat rolled down her forehead and stung her eyes
and trickled down the curves of her spine,
she wished that she had a glass of truth
to quench her dry throat so controlled by lies
and glossed over, acceptable responses.
she wished she could go back and take back each and every instance where
she shrugged her shoulders
or said “Yes” or
“That’s OK” or
“It’s not that serious” or
“I’ll be alright” or
“I forgive you”
but the hour had passed her, escaped her life.
so here she was flying out of her own body,
searching the universe for the “No” that she never spoke that was just
seconds, moments, minutes, hours, days, grades, hesitations away,
hoping that the next time she used the word,
unlike this time,
it wouldn’t be too late.