All posts filed under: The Political Body

Pregnant woman standing outside against a sunset.

Three Poems

Immaculate Conception The day my mother confessed  She had conceived me though IUI, Guilt swallowed her eyes.  Her voice grew quiet And shame took over her body. She had betrayed God  For a baby. Wanted something  So natural,  Motherhood, And obtained it artificially.  Throughout my life,  She repeatedly told me I was special.  I never quite understood why  Until that day.    Feliz día de las madres I think about the first interactions  Between my mother and I. She’s the first person  And place  I called home. The vibrations traveling  From her mouth to her belly— Yo sentí el español antes  De oírlo, hablarlo, leerlo, ni escribirlo. She would tell me  You ate whatever I ate In an attempt to argue I should like the foods she eats. I can’t deny I adore chiles rellenos But I also can’t digest garlic or onions. I inherited taste and malaise.  I look down to my belly button, It once was connected to my mother. And her belly button was once connected to her mother,  And my grandma’s …

A Black man holds his head in his hand. He is leaning against the foot of a bed. A person rests their hand on his shoulder.

I Had to Dial 9-1-1 on My Son During His Mental Health Crisis

“Hello, 9-1-1. What is your emergency?”  The operator’s business-like monotone was exactly what I needed so I could focus.  “I need an ambulance,” I gasped into my cell phone. “My son has symptoms of manic depression. He’s not violent, but I need to get him emergency psychiatric care.”  After I gave the operator the address, I ran the rest of the way to my mother’s house. Khari, who was usually friendly and cracking jokes, was seated at my mother’s dining room table, frowning and rocking rapidly in his chair with his hands tightly gripping the sides. He was talking nonstop about my father who had died from multiple myeloma eleven years earlier.  “Nothing has been the same since we lost Pop-Pop. Nothing. Nothing. Not for me, not for Nana, none of us. Nothing!” he said. My mother, sister, and I gathered around him.  “It’s going to be OK,” I said and tried to hug him.  “Don’t touch me,” he yelled.   We backed away slowly and watched him silently, unsure of what else to say as we waited …

A smiling woman floating in water.

Notes on the Ancestral, Collective & Personal Body

I feel, therefore I can be free – Audre Lorde   personal & collective body I have come to learn that my body is not just my body—it’s an accumulation of freshly scarred histories embellishing the surface of my skin. My body is flesh, soul and history, a combination of intergenerational teachings passed down through lifetimes. My body is woven by threads of ancestors who came before, their ropes tie knots of unrelenting anguish into my cells. Buried within me, a legacy of brittle disempowerment yet to be healed, juxtaposed by a phenomenal strength that bears stories of wisdom, intertwined into my very breath, wrapped around my lungs, pulsating through my blood. I have been transporting stories, both personal and part of the collective through my body, with my body. Collective/ancestral stories occupy my genetics, harvest a crop of tight braids that I am learning to live, learning to loosen, learning to distinguish. Personal stories materialise from outside, settling, at first on the peripheries of my margins, shaped in feelings and silhouettes of consequential experiences. Arriving through …

I Need to Tell You About My Mother

I need to tell you something.  I need to tell you that my mother isn’t ugly.  I was always told that she was. Nobody said it out loud. No one threw fruit, broke mirrors, or howled at the moon when she passed. The u-word was never spoken directly to her face or mine. But when people spoke about her, it was obvious. They talked about her hair, her skin, her size, her face as though they were all somehow wrong. The things she was born with—the hair from her scalp, the color of her skin, the size of her thighs and stomach, her tiny smile—these were all deficiencies. They were lazy, unkempt, unwanted, even when she took good care of them.  Nobody ever spoke to my mother softly. Nobody asked her if she was alright. Nobody made sure she was safe. Nobody went with her to the store late at night or plumped her pillows when she returned. Nobody treated her like she was precious. I never saw anyone take care of my mother. I …