Once I loved with my eyes closed.
I reached out, asked the goddesses and foremothers
for strength. Open my chest, I said, and birth me a girl
whose body bleeds with the power
of every woman who walked before her, who knew
the possibility of an exposed heartbeat.
And they did. I placed my own heart
into the crib, kissed you, closed
the door behind me. My body made babies because my mother
and the ones before her all said, We bring girls
to life not to sustain this world, but to enrich it. What power
in your generation, child. Oh, to know
the gift of healing passed to you in the body’s knowledge.
One day, you too will ask to break your heart
in favor of the blessing of close-
mouth kisses on your cheek. Not every woman wants to be a mother—
not every goddess produces excellence in the form of a girl.
And yet, your soul has an ancient power
instilled in you at birth. I felt your power
in my blood the moment I knew
you would come. I danced to your heartbeat,
poured out wine in your honor, closed
my hands in prayer around your promised body. As your mother,
I braided the universe in your hair, baby girl.
You’re the reason I believe in invincible Black girls,
why it’ll take more than bullets to extinguish your power,
why your voice weakens hurricanes. They should know
better than to question the footsteps of your heart.
You are not free until we all walk free, closing
the doors on impossible. You are a miracle. The original mothers
called for you purposefully. If you become a mother,
pray to them and light candles and sing for a little girl
whose reverence is as obvious as yours, who conjures powerful
revolutions between her hips and on the tip of her tongue. Know
brilliant is not a compliment, but a fact. Your heart
is the center of the altar of your body. You are magic, dressed in royal clothes.
As your mother, I formed you out of a power I could only turn
into a Black girl. I closed my eyes, stopped my heart, and knew:
My baby will change the world.
Monica Prince, born and raised in Lakewood, CO, received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing with a focus in poetry from Georgia College & State University. Her work has been featured in MadCap Review, TRACK//FOUR, Texas’s Best Emerging Poets, and elsewhere. She is the managing editor for the Santa Fe Writers ProjectQuarterly and author of the chapbook Letters from the Other Woman (Grey Book Press, 2018). Prince writes, performs, and teaches at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, where she serves as the 2017-2019 Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry. Keep up with her on Twitter: @poetic_moni or at her website.