My Daughter’s Joy (An Ode to Freedom)

I want to write

I want to be whole

Again

I want to be heard

I want to know the sound of my laughter

I want to know what my daughter feels when she greets each day

Like she is unwrapping a gift

She didn’t think she would ever get

I want to know how it feels to be peaceful

To awaken kind

Soft

Gentle

I want to know what it’s like to be comforted by a mother who doesn’t fear

That she will lose you

That you will break

Be broken

Because you are the only thing that keeps her whole

I want to know what it’s like to feel known

To feel loved

For who I am

Just as I am

Truly loved

To feel it truly

Wholly

To know in my bones that it is possible to love me

That I am loved because of

Not despite

For what does it matter if one is loved

When one doesn’t know how to receive

I want to get away

Run away

Be gone

On good days

I want to travel

To live that dream I had once conjured

Of traveling

And writing stories

Of children without families

Of grandmothers in their kitchens

Cooking up spicy revolutions

To songs of broken promises

Shattered homes

Murdered children

To live that dream in which my voice would give voice to things

That matter most

Like human dignity

Like life

In all its forms

The dream in which my writing would give a voice to people

Left voiceless by the way this world has come to run

The way it always has, perhaps

I want to remember how sweet it is

To hold that dream in which

I matter

Because I am a voice

For love

For umoja

For imani

For truth

I want to live like I once did

Believing that there only ever is

One truth

One moment at a time

That nothing matters but the truth within each moment

I want to live each moment as if

Who I am in it

How I feel in it

What becomes of me in it

Truly matters

Because I matter

I want to know what it’s like to

Awaken at peace

With myself

With what has been given to me

What I have reaped and built myself

Carried on my back

In my heart

With a soul so dark that

Sometimes, I gasp

As if I’ve submerged into the depths of an ocean

I want to know what it’s like to

Walk this earth carrying a soul precisely the opposite to my own

What it would be like to see myself, the world, my own possibility

The way my daughter sees her own

Perhaps her joy, her lightness are

My redemption–

Not in that I get to live vicariously

Through a joy I will, in the end, never muster myself

But that I was able to create a body that serves as a vessel

For a soul as joyful as my daughter’s

To know that I was able to do this–

Despite my own soul

Despite the things it has survived

Despite its always wretched state–

Was a true miracle

That my daughter’s coming to this world

Through me

Her way of being

Complete

Peaceful

Loving

Endlessly content

Are a miracle

I want to know what it is like to be content

Not simply grateful

Which I am always

But content

With what has come

What has been given

The fruits of a Universe that has

In fact

Been generous and kind to me

For which, again

I am grateful, always

And yet–

I wish to know what it is like to greet a day

A single day

Aware of my own goodness

My own light

To question nothing of why or how I came to be

To know that I am worthy of being here

Not because I became someone

By giving a voice to things and people

Truth(s) and revolutions

But because I am here

Because I matter

I want to know the joy with which such knowledge would fill the soul

The peace it would bring

Not because I have found redemption in my daughter’s joy

But because I would have found my own

If only a glimpse

If only for a moment

To be a vessel that carries my own joy

To be whole

To feel loved

To be at peace

I  want to know, truly

What it’s like to be free

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