To Keep Them Whole

A mother must know when her child is trying to survive. This isn’t the same as when a child struggles, pushes boundaries, rages through growing pains. When a child is trying to survive, a mother must know that to stay still and silent is to do nothing by way of helping her child remain whole, after all, this is what survival is. The very thing … Continue reading To Keep Them Whole

A Lesson on Hair

A smiling white woman with straight golden hair and bright blue eyes leaned across the aisle on the L train to Brooklyn and asked if I had ever thought about conditioning my daughter’s hair. My girl looked magical that day, as she has every day of her life. We were happy in that moment, reveling in our daily ritual of riding the train home from … Continue reading A Lesson on Hair

Flip Flops and Poems

Writing poems is like wearing flip flops. Let me explain before you dismiss the simile and skip this verse. You see, I’m under five feet tall, and chose to walk most of my life in heels, the highest I could find, from when I turned sixteen until the summer I became a mother, and wore nothing but flip flops because Jamaica is hot and because … Continue reading Flip Flops and Poems

An Accidental Poem

Taught five classes, although it was a day of games to celebrate the end of the trimester, spoke to two parents, prevented a hell of a fight, at least for today, stayed back for an hour to talk a kid through a hardship I couldn’t see myself endure, picked up the kid from school, rode the train home, thirty-five minutes of a six-year-old spinning sentences … Continue reading An Accidental Poem

Dear Me

Dear me, yesterday: A student will say something that will burn more than a slap across the face when what you’re expecting is a hug. Don’t let her words cut you; she intends nothing but relief from her own wounds. Dear me, fifteen years ago: You will be loved, although you’ll continue to struggle with loving yourself. Believe it. Claim it. Hold onto it, even … Continue reading Dear Me

First Kiss

Today, in school, you kissed a boy, and held his hand, another moment in this place, where you live a life that is your own, away from my gaze and counsel, existing in my own imagination, like a mosaic inside a kaleidoscope, always shifting, always changing too quickly, as fragmented and hurried as the stories you share about your days, and ones I hear from … Continue reading First Kiss

The Other Mother

Another woman birthed a child, and I became a mother, and it doesn’t matter why she couldn’t keep him, or why I didn’t birth a child myself because all there is to know is that this woman’s greatest loss gave me the gift of motherhood, unmatched in grace and beauty, and for which there simply is no way to thank this woman, without whom I … Continue reading The Other Mother

By Invitation Only

My daughter’s body isn’t a battlefield for you to wage wars on, cover with wounds and blood, destroy, and pillage. My daughter’s body isn’t a play space for you to take her on roller coaster rides intended to amuse and entertain you. My daughter’s body isn’t made for you to hiss at, whistle at, talk about, mock, take, reach for. Unless her words— you hear … Continue reading By Invitation Only