My mother taught me how to make a living.
My father showed me how to create a life to live.
She was deemed responsible.
He was deemed selfish.
… I want to be selfishly responsible from here on out.
Saturday afternoon truth
told by thick brown hands,
stories of survival and struggle until both
sound like all the names of the black mamas in the neighborhood
Hymns and laughter
imparted in between sections of greased scalps
that smell like coconut or yesterday’s frying oil
Here, little girls get to disappear
feel their mother’s heart beat
as her fingertips massage away her little girl worries
not turning the jump rope fast enough
getting picked last during recess for dodge ball
on the floor between her mother’s legs
the little girl’s father appears in a new light
fresh and foul
like discounted gizzards
she learns why to save
why the pulled out back seat of her grandfather’s Cadillac is a
treasure in the garage
safe Saturday rituals become
sanctified Sunday religion
and all this from sitting in between her mother’s legs
getting her hair
If I could rename her, I would call her Oya. She brought the rain/the storm/the thunder and lightening my heart needed.
I thought my womb would stretch/hips expand/body open for all my children to breath life.
I never imagined my teacher would come to me, age 11/a reflection of my brokenness/an unrelenting stare/unyielding hunger to be whole.
There was no escaping. A time to heal had come, and so began the cycle of faith and fear.
I never imagined my daughter as a savior. There would be nothing immaculate about her conception. How I became a mother would be by birth. But here she is, no marks to prove my body made room for her/to prove to my soul was given time to prepare for her. But she is here, breathing in all of my dreams as if I whispered them to her as she tossed and turned in my body.
She is a sphinx. The fire burns but never destroys. I have witnessed her sift through her own ashes at least three times. For that, I do not take credit. I am only here to remind her she has been resurrected before.
I relish in every raindrop/vigilant through every storm/faithful when the lightening strikes because I know rebirth is on the other side. She has taught me to bury the dead/to forgive myself. It is her grace I am most grateful for/her willingness to allow me to grow/to always allow me to hold her. Even in the darkest hours, when our arms can’t seem to stretch around our bodies, I hold her in my heart/in my prayers. I carry her like child in womb in my soul.
Continue reading SHE CHRONICLES: “For Mamas Who Have Considered Suicide While Loving Daughters With Open Wounds” a poem by Crystal Tennille Irby
When warriors / raise daughters
We don’t pass her a Baton / tell her to run /
We pass her a Machete / tell her to grip it / firm and steady/
let it be an extension / of your hand / plant your feet / bend your knees /
if you raise your arm / do not speak /with eyes at your feet
/ spot neck in your periphery / with strength and precision/ cut long, hard and deep
This is your life / live it / defend it
/ whatever comes for you / be ready
Jolivette Anderson-Douoning is an Educator and Poet from Shreveport, LA. Her research is focused on Race, Space and Place. It explores the psyche of African Americans in the United States and how their existence has been negotiated according to the racial history of the nation. Anderson-Douoning is a 4th year PhD student at Purdue University where she is studying American Studies/Curriculum and Instruction. She currently lives in Indiana with her daughter.
She has four recordings of poetry and prose: Love and Revolution Underground, At the End of a Rope in Mississippi, Jolivette Live: A Bluesy Funk Life Cycle, and She Energy.
For bookings and additional information firstname.lastname@example.org or DrJolly2015@gmail.com
Enjoy reading some of the highlights from She Chronicles 2015. Mark your calendars to submit for the March 2016 collection by February 13th!
Check this out:
“I was raised on stories of return and that hope is still alive in my father’s eyes.”
“He was happy to be no quite happy, happy enough for his daughters so that they could have a life with more opportunities than his had full bellies.”
For daughters who hate mothers for
not being Grandma
For mothers who hate daughters
Cause she thinks she know it all
If only they’d not played with baby dolls
maybe both wouldn’t be disappointed
This is for the daughters from mothers
Who are now mothers of daughters
That meet at the shore of unforgiving
whose hearts are prematurely laid to rest
Tomb stone reading.. fear
This is for mothers who hate daughters for being just like them
This is for daughters who hate mothers for not teaching them any better
For mothers with old tricks that no longer separate the sun from recycled patio air
For daughters with paper doll necks held upright with duct taped thoughts of suicide
both parked on one way streets without life’s permission to do so
…faces marked hourly with tears
This is for way too tired mothers
Who have true dreams of stress ridden daughters with sunflower crowns
This is for mothers & daughters
who stuff their wounds with spider webs
and catch men with two legs, four lives and a thousand lies
This is a prayer for time to cancel judgment from the memory bank of what was important
For daughters and mothers facing sad reflections
Digging deep regrets
At the shore of unforgiving.
nikki skies copyright 2014
I am the great great grand daughter of
Reversed breath and dared visions…
Gulps of darkness
and wind drifts of honey tamed coagulated blood
with sounds heavy / held in hallow fields.
I let life stain my ashen legs
with streams of flowers and foul
Ball cramp symbols under the folds of my toes
So the scorpion trails are sensible to children’s eyes.
Great grandmother’s conversations with a pine tree snake
He feared her gray eyes as I did
So we both kept our distance / mesmerized with her patience to catch a fly.
She was magic
And one day I sold her show for a rollercoaster ride
And a tongue kiss
I bought it back with my grandmother’s apron
…the one smeared with fish scales and rabbit guts
now I pay $6.89 a pound for whiting fillets
it used to be free after an afternoon at the lake
I am still her granddaughter
And her mother’s great grand daughter
And her mother a great great sunrise before…
dreamt of me.