Brown Girl Learns Her Body
Skin, light and boasting. Hair, fine and long and pigtailed. You are barely seven when you conjure up this image of the wannabe self, hoping and hoping that your caterpillar of a body will metamorphosize into it one day. But deep, deep inside you know that no amount of pleading to God or science or the family tree will undo the inevitable doing of the thick-bodied woman you are to become, of the mamas and aunties and ancestral femininity waiting to form inside of you. Like spring fruit your hips will blossom, your breasts will bloom and bloom, your backside will mold itself according to its genetic destiny—plump and fat and stretch-marked. Skin, dark and unable to hide. Hair, kinky and short and plaited. This is who you are, brown girl, this is who you are.
My mother greets me with questioning each time.
“Has your waist grown larger?” “Have you lost a bit of weight?” “Will you ever weave up your hair again or at least get it braided?”
I’ve grown to understand that she means well. She only intends to strike up conversation, to point out observations she’s made. Though I wish she’d ask about other things, like say, my occasionally shaky hands or absent-fathered heart or the white girls and how they’re all getting married or why I wanted to run away in 4th grade or real reason I often forget to call back.
But perhaps this is how her mother taught her to talk, to never question things unless it be about the shell. Perhaps she is questioning, but only the things she knows how.
Cinnamon brown beaming, nose wide and unabashed, booty and hips and thighs telling of all their whispered stories—I am, I am,