There are some days when every cell of your body is a powerhouse of memories, when the canvas of your skin has too many textures of times gone by. Today is one of those days for me. And I find myself staring at a painting hanging precariously from my eyelashes, a painting of me and daddy from the summer of 2008. That was the time my lungs started to line themselves with specks of reality that flavored my oxygen, and every breath that left my body took a tiny part of my innocence with it.
I was thirteen and our father had just slapped me across the face for walking out in front of his friends, uncovered. While my outraged cheek sang its battle cry for being violated so, my tender mind couldn’t see the threat that my bare arms and shoulders posed. A threat that was as clear to the men in the room as the stretch marks on our mother’s belly. And just like those white vines growing on the temple of her body, the world seemed to recoil from and revel in the celebration of my growing form. As I grew up, the curves of my body started to look like roads that were not supposed to be, treacherous streams of water flowing into a roaring river.
And as you are growing up, I see the same roads on you, the same stretch marks just starting to grow on your walls. Beware, my love. They see the threat in you, the same threat they hate and lust over in the same breath. Your mouth is a saxophone, crooning songs of rebellion our grandmothers of yore sang to us in our dreams. I see your shoulders stretching wide, a proud bridge where our father’s frustration walks every morning. Your hips may not be as wide but they are as strong as the roar of your heart in pain. I hear it every night and it sounds like a terrible cry of a newborn having her first nightmare. It resonates within me, the echoes of your cry a siren’s call to my blood. Like a red wave leading a tsunami, the blood inside me rushes to the surface with a force that threatens to wreak destruction on the barriers of my skin. And some nights, that feel very similar to days like today, I just want to let it break free.
I want to carve along the marks on my skin, and lay it wide open under the bright summer sky, a tent for lost Eves of the world to take shelter in. I want to strip my body of its softness and use my sharp edges as swords to arm the broken dolls you insist on bringing home everyday. I want to braid my hair like the night sky and adorn it with the stars of your smiles, their twinkling a lullaby for your crying eyes. I want to unwind the fragments of my being and weave the strands into a tiny world for us. A world where no man will ever blame the length of your skirt for the length of your shadow. Where your last name will not drop how our eyes and heads refuse to. Where your back will not bend in half under the weight of all the stories of dead mothers we carry from our womb. Where your sons and daughters will be children of choice, not off springs of a law that strips you of your right to bleed and your right to breed. Where your hands will be the ones deciding whom they want to meet halfway in embrace.
So come, love. Sit with me and make your mind your canvas. The color of your brown skin runs deep and tough, the white storm of supremacy will never wash it away, no matter how strong the winds are. Embrace that color; it is dark from all the ink of all the pages about people that never made it to our history books. The sound of your silence haunts me; your voice was made to bleed into ears that grew up hearing only the heavy drums of patriarchy. So scream all you want, rage against the setting of the sun. Cleanse yourself of the shame they tried to throw on you. Your blood is holier than their thoughts, bathe in it and let your wet feet dance across the world. And when the drops glisten down your hair, down your body and into the earth, sing a soft lullaby and put me to sleep.