Haven’t been a virgin since that day.
There wasn’t a campfire to sit around
and talk about feelings.
Information was passed down to me
in drips and drabs;
just enough to make me feel like
a soiled little girl.
Because the good girls are virgins,
only their husbands get to know them,
and they get to know heaven.

Many of us caught that early bus to hell.
Young, vulnerable, and innocent,
we didn’t choose it.
The trusted relative
was in the driver’s seat,
teaching lessons that were not listed
on the school curriculum.

They say the fall happened
when she handed him the apple
and they ate.
But the fall is still happening,
as many of us have our eyes opened by force.
We try to hide our nakedness
from those we trust
who prey on us,
and sometimes also pray
or pay for us.

Time hasn’t erased you.
I still remember your scent,
the clothes I wore the night
I was placed in your care,
your grunts echoing in my ears,
and how much I cried
because I was afraid.
I didn’t know whom to tell,
how or why my tiny frame
became the target
of your manhood.
You cut me so deep.
Semen filled the wound.
It felt like I was the one
that didn’t belong
in the family.
A walking dirty secret,
impure and ashamed.

Did it feel good
when you hurt me?
I need to know
because I can’t find peace.
They keep telling me
happiness is on the inside,
but I’m so cut up
there’s nothing
but scar tissue inside.

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It’s okay to speak, even when you’re wrong,
because the one thing you don’t say
might be the one thing that is needed;
the one thing that will make you come alive again;
the one thing that reaches someone else’s spirit and sets it free.

Allow yourself to express yourself.

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Baby girl, love love love your natural hair!
Don’t let anyone, black or white, tell you to change it.

Your afro hair has broken a comb or two.
It hurts to brush it the way I do.
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry and flinch.
I need to comb the knots out of every inch
and anoint your head with Jamaican black castor oil.

My hands know the shape of your skull
and how it has changed over the years.
I plait every precious strand with my nimble fingers,
never braiding it too tight,
always trying out different styles.

Some will call your tresses ‘tangled messes’
and make you feel like life isn’t fair.
Be gentle with yourself, be gentle with your hair.
There’s beauty in diversity, refuse to conform.
We are created as individuals, not uniform.
Your features don’t make you second class, honey.
Your natural hair isn’t ugly.

Mother knows best,
forget the rest.

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You are beautiful
when silent and sleeping,
screaming or weeping,
without altering appearance,
just fresh-faced radiance.
When walking dust roads,
pavements, and beaches,
barefoot, sandals, or heels,
there’s no end to your appeals.

You are beautiful,
regardless of what you eat, wear, or earn.
Respecting your body at every turn.
Taking time to soothe your spirit.
When trouble comes, you do not fear it.
Showing everyone you meet love and care,
even those who snigger at your kinky hair.
There’s no need to feel odd.
This is the footstool of God.

You are beautiful
when sitting still, not doing a thing,
listening to the voice within
with a guarded heart
and an unexplainable peace.
Knowing who you are in Him,
undisturbed when things look grim.
The salt, the light, the mustard seed,
my precious pearl, my treasure piece.

You are beautiful
all the time, my daughter;
blessed and bathed in holy water.
Nothing makes you any less,
you represent God’s great finesse.

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