It began with the usual insults
about her nose and hips,
and the belief that her true-true mother
lived on a coral island protected
by sunken galleys and man-o-wars.
her therapists said, were drawing her
toward a different future
than her parents had wished for
when they punished her
for not reading the books they’d studied,
and sent her away on Easter egg hunts
dressed in starched, pink dresses, white bonnets,
and blue bows in each braid of her stubborn hair.
And when she began cutting her wrists,
arms, legs, and belly, her parents
agreed with the psychiatrists
to the prescriptions of pills, potions,
and poisons to keep her grounded in this life.
But then, the scabs became scars became scales,
her hair grew wild and untamed,
and a garden of yellows, blues, and reds sprouted
on her arms, legs, and back –
her ears and lips studded with gold –
and almost overnight she changed into something
she had always resembled in her own dreams,
in the mirror of her mother –
something beautiful and fearsome.
Geoffrey Philp, author of Marcus and the Amazons and Dub Wise, teaches English and creative writing at Miami Dade College. Geoffrey publishes regularly on his blog (Geoffrey Philp’s Blog), and has begun an online petition for the exoneration of Marcus Garvey.