Woman, Like My Hair

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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