Some little girls, with plaits and blemishes, cook rice and jerked chicken, as the heat crawls down their spine, in the shack. They wipe tears of beach water and vulnerability from their walls of sacrifice. They eat dinner, wishing they had a T.V. or mum, or dad, to tell them things will get better: one day. They stroke photos of their mummies, gone to big cities. Mummies who send money every month to buy food and pay the rent. Mummies who never call.
Mother I need, mother I need, mother I need your blackness now as the august earth needs rain.
Some little girls wear the pretty dresses their mummies send by mail. The dresses tarnished with the labor of ungrateful children, but because the first world’s demand for service workers draws mothers from a variety of developing countries often to care for other people’s children their mummies go. Their mummies care for children that will one day forget them, but “if a man don’t work he can’t eat” and that goes for mummies too. So their mummies work hard, underpaid and poorly treated. Their mummies will be ill with resentment, just like some little girls sitting on the porch holding onto silhouettes of their mummies. The nostalgia is captured in the barrels sent back home, with the dresses, the food, the toiletries, and the shoes. Some little girls never forget the shoes.
The doorbell rings and some little girls welcome familiar faces, drowning in Obsession by Calvin Klein. Damaged portals, who secretly stare at them through the window. “Mah sista ain’t ‘ome” some little girls say. But these faces enter in any way. They know that there are some little girls who are unkempt, yet ripe, like the peaches they enjoy after work. “I’ll wait fa she”, these faces reply, grinning. Then, some little girls, naïve and unaware walk the malicious grins to the sofa, so that they can unbutton their bodies on land that’s never been touched. They forbid screaming, and take the loneliness of their victims and mold it into fear. Some little girls lose their aspirations in the chapped of these lips and foreign anatomy. They bleed their youth as the faces say, “tings will get betta: one dey”. And as some little girl’s have had their virtues tainted, they will be more vacant than the past. They will try to force their miniature hands over the bruises, but they will be too ambitious in their reaching.
This is an excerpt from the lyrical essay titled: "Little Girls What Has Ruined You?", which won The City College of New York, David Dortort Prize in Creative Writing for Non-fiction, May 2018
Tonight I wonder if God is here:
in the moonlight
scaling the walls of mold
burning this plastic mattress
in the same fire He used
to speak to Moses
I wonder if He can hear the agony
of being un-fleshed
the ripping of the sky;
exposing wounds of earth
upon my ever questionable salvation
& in the morning I wonder if He will speak:
attuned to the agony
that lies beneath my brittle faith
where the anticipation of survival
tries to cross my beating heart