I want to be a woman like my hair/She says/Wild and untamed/What’s stopping you?/ Life. Poems by Robyn Stephenson.
Meditation on Trees This is magic: in the green/grey filter of yellow sunlight hitting black dirt red-purple blossoms and your own brown skin far-flung from its nothing-coloured origins in the wasteland of other stars like itself. Staring upwards the faraway blue is camouflaged by rustling whispers and imperceptible movements that dance like shadow puppies playing at your feet. The smell of dirt and legend and bark and stories prevails here preludes the deluge to warn your nose of rain. The smell of fertile earth and industrious insects seeps into your pores and reminds you that you are as alive as the hairy roots and innocent shoots of this undergrowth and this too is magic. The blossoming in your chest taking root and sending branches to your arms fruit to your fingers and lining your veins like tree bark throbbing with the pulse of your history is also magic. So burrow your feet like trunks in darkened soil your toes like feelers tuned to the life underneath. Feel your breath become one with the murmurs of the leaves as they slide across one another like lips conversing in a foreign tongue. And their language it is a form of magic, too. ---- Woman, like My Hair I want to be a woman like my hair She says Wild and untamed What’s stopping you? Life Society and its rules My hair meanwhile Neatly coiffed If I was a woman like my hair I would be “Struggling for freedom” We all carry this oppression Of our own making Slave masters learned us well Can’t undo these Bantu knots They got me Thinking my hair Determines my worth Got me thinking Wild hair means worthless White hair means worthy Lessons learned Decades ago by grandmother’s knee (tugging and yanking – why yu head so tuff?) Cannot be unlearned in air conditioned classrooms Where academics with clever kinky coils Decry retention Embrace your curls is the cry of the mixed Negro Black girls Still braid their hair Brazilian When will it be okay To be wild, untamed? When will the African be unchained? --- Young Girl I know your type Too young to be singing along to these songs much less know what they mean much less wriggling your body beside me in a packed taxi version of wine-and-bubble I know your type With hems too high buttons too low and tongues too ready to trace for what you have no right to I know your type sneaking out of houses into cigarettes and alcohol and arms and bodies and heads that know better but don't do Better you stay at home study your book and stop chasing the monsters you should be running from. [Robyn Stephenson is a Jamaican writer and feminist who is passionate about expanding literary narratives and enjoys creative pieces that challenge the status quo.]
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