I remember being given the permission to date at a certain age. Even if not literal (I don’t remember being told), by the age of 15, 16, and 17 it was understood I have at some point begun dating, and as such there was a silent acceptance of this change. As I’m running errands and trying to escape the triple digit scorch that’s got it’s body spread all over Louisiana, I thought about womanhood. What is womanhood? The question hangs over the heads of our daughters with anxious anticipation. The youthful mind dividing itself into sections of experience: puberty, first date, first love, marriage, and children. We split ourselves into portions and gamble off pieces that do not fit. We grow old and still we find this question lingering against the frontal lobe of our minds, and occupying the mental space of our thoughts, “What is Womanhood?” It is a question we believe can be answered just by purchasing cigarettes, buying liquor, engaging in sexual intercourse or the entering of the club scene. As my thoughts spread out and I take these snap shots of my own past, I thought about this generation and how disappointed I am in a lot of today’s youth. Their minds seem to be so far gone from basic fundamental teachings that drive adulthood. My thoughts grew to include preparation and how little of it is present in many of our communities. That is the preparation of our young people and most especially, of our young women. Instead of encouraging our daughters to get boyfriends, it is time we start to prepare them for womanhood. In this way, when they begin to engage in relationships, when they do find a man, they’re not little girls. Because we have not prepared our daughters, a generation of children occupy grown-up bodies and little girls have over run our households and are producing babies they don’t have the tools to teach. What happened to the womanhood training our grandmothers instilled in our mothers fifty years ago?
This poem is based on a true story. A sista I know requested I write a poem based on her childhood. And after hearing her testimony, this is the result.
Silence lingers on every street corner of her heart
surrounded by the sounds of her own heartbeat
the only child
who knew that loneliness could be so loud?
Never remembering ever being a girl
womanhood emerging from her mother’s womb
responsibilities following her home wrapped in soft blankets and warm booties
yet infancy is kicked off too soon
and replaced with scavenger instincts
tearing away at empty cupboards
hope falling asleep like heroine nods
quickly replaced with the tears of a three year old
silence tearing away at the soft eardrums of a toddler’s pride
never remembering ever being a girl
Quick paces of little feet turned nine
gotta get the cigarettes on time
unknown eyes that are watching me
(at least somebody’s watching me)
careful now these little feet
having never been a girl
Twelve times twelve,
sadness in mommies cancer eyes
watch him do it and do it right
gotta give the medicine exactly right
the internal cries of that youthful voice (never really having been young)
somebody please tell me,
where is mommies tongue?
gotta carry cause mommies gone
will someone sing her daughters song?
The woman with the pink ribbons in her curls
the woman never having been a girl
Restaurants to wash myself
weed and drinks cause I watch myself
who cares for cute sinks when nothings left
seems like childhood just up and left
me sitting beside myself
empty benches now colored with the stench of my pain
smelly armpits reach out to beg for change
while relatives sit at home and count my change
whose willing to see this woman change?
Never having been a girl
Hustle proved its source of love
where does an instant woman find true love?
inside the arms of an abusive man she seeks her refuge from lazy hands
money giving light to dark places
apartment buildings giving substance to misplacement’s
where has it gone? My love? Where’s your part?
where oh where have you hidden my heart?
Numbers fade away like living water upon dirty dishes
this daughter of mine the result of these stitches
Entering the world as if she owns it!
Gotta hope another woman has not entered this world
praying my first child has the chance to at least,