Did you ever see me as a child

and not a possession?

Or was I the duplicate picture of your second-hand negro barbie,

tucked under your chin and clutched

to your small chest like hazy memories  

of you in the prime of your innocence?


The first day, when I was nine,

and I began to bleed between thick thighs,

you held me in the fear that I (too)

would learn the touch of a man before I knew how to divide.


For years, I have tried to learn how to divide two by two,

my father and you—

but I cannot find the answer.



I learn how to pluck my eyebrows

at the sight of my reflection,

relax my hair,

shave my legs and hide myself

within the confines of my own body.


For years I have tried to find the reason why

your mother and you

do not speak.


For years I have tried to find the reason why

I am afraid to speak

to you.


I remember how (for endless nights)

I listened to you sob,

and I knocked

on locked doors with rolls of toilet paper in tiny hands.


Sometimes you would open the door and smile,

and I would hug you like one day

you would slip between my fingers and

sink into the solemn depths of the Atlantic

to be dragged by currents

back to Spanish Town, Jamaica.


Sometimes you would scream

“Get the fuck away from me.”

and I would retreat into our adjoined bedrooms,

leaving me wondering what it was that I did wrong—


When you spent years instilling into my mind

that I am the reason

for so many tears shed easier than a snake’s skin.


I almost think I hate you.

(I think I fucking hate my mother.)


I think to myself,

is this the reason why you hate my Grandmother?  


Or is it because on the first day,

(when you were nine,)

and you began to bleed (between thick thighs,)

and you learned the touch of a man (for the first time,)

my grandfather’s filthy hands running between your legs,

inciting 37 years worth of accusations of lies,

because your Mother believed that you had a reason to lie

about being raped in the same bed they slept in at night?


Is that the reason why for nights on end

your tears would

penetrate walls and form floods,

setting me adrift yearning for the warmth of your smile?


Is this the reason why

when you look at me

all you really see is yourself,

and all the pain you endured, fresh and anew

like the blood caked between our thighs,

your fear running rampant through my womb?


(Your fear running rampant through my womb like one day,

I will slip between your fingers.)


Black little girls

wear their pain etched into their skin

And their Mothers turn blind eyes and pretend

that they never noticed that they are  
contributors to the sea of endless scars

written on their bodies like unread

eulogies in the back of newspapers,

our monolithic and monochrome faces printed as

an echo of their innocence,

lost to men who do not see them as children,

lost to women who do not see their daughters as children.


You never saw me as a child.


I know that’s the reason why

when you beat me bloody every so often,

you tell me that your mother did worse.


I know that’s the reason why when you tell me

you see the cycle of hate
between you and your mother and her mother,

I know you don't really understand.


You don’t comprehend

because you have never been taught

how to divide two by two,

your mother and you,

so you don’t see the answer.


You don’t see
how now I am bare because you have hurt me,

and now I am sitting on my knees in the cloak of your gaze.
Now I am withdrawn, and sullen, and furious, and apathetic

because I have been trapped in the confines of my own body.

I am confused, and terrified, and hateful

because this blood

caked between our thighs

is a prison.

And I don't know who to blame,
because the cycle of Mothers who hate their Mothers,
and Daughters who hate their Daughters,

and Daughters who hate their Mothers,

and Mothers who hate their Daughters

dwells within me,
and I do not know who to blame anymore.

Is it myself reflected back at me?

This poem is about: 
My family
My community


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