This poem is very near and dear to my heart. I wrote this about womanhood in general, the growing up of it, the pain in it, the masks we wear to do it and, mostly, about the woman who taught me how to do it-- my mom.
My mother is my biggest influence in my life. I have seen her change with the times as her strength and power has only become greater as she’s aged. I was so scared of being a girl, in truth. I didn’t understand the place I was supposed to sit in and I felt that she was the person who made me question it. She never fit into one mold and was always inexcusably her own.
I hope women can read this and understand the juxtaposition of being a good mother and being a good woman, as they sometimes clash when you are trying to do the right thing to protect your child from the cruelty of society. Her sacrifices were never waved in front of my face, and her truth was never pushed onto me, making her own personal experiences a tale she only tells in dreams. Her humility made her brave. Being female is strong, but hers is the strongest.
She Only Speaks In Dreams
Oh, the blood. Running down my legs into the pristine linoleum,
spilling horror out of my body.
“A woman you now are,” my mother closed her eyes and
graced me with the cotton septor.
You’ve qualified for male impertinence and scrutiny
for the rest of your bloody life.
Rejoice in your doom.
Give resilience to the monthly reminder
that your body is man’s machine.
The next fourteen years of poppy-seeded
stubble body hairs sprouting about your body
should be waxed and waned
as quickly as the man changes in the moon.
At twenty you’ll go to bars
and learn to only
speak fairytales from your tongue,
kiss sweetness from your lips,
lick sugar from the rim.
Until sweetness turns sour
and you catch your mother
speaking riddles in her sleep.
Tossing in the night between
she should have been
and the one he made her into,
Smash your septor, baby,
Braid your leg hairs,
Kiss only when you mean it,
Drink whiskey, neat.
By Kendall Rotar
…As I began to embark on my new life journey thousands of miles away from home, one of the hardest things I had to undergo was learning which relationships to “take” with me on my young adult novel-esque journey, and which ones to leave back in Texas
I didn’t analyze the situation too closely at the time, other than to remark, “Wow, that’s funny that they thought I was pregnant.” But thinking back, I’m struck by how inappropriate it is to compliment a young woman on her maintained virginity. I also think, what if I had been pregnant? Would they have described abortion as an option? Or would they have positioned adoption or motherhood as the only available choices?
Support networks are important for everyone, but they don’t always come in the same form for every person. Family is perhaps the first one that comes to mind, but the definition of family is not uniform. For some, it’s biological. For others, it’s chosen. For some, it’s a mixture of the two.
Every time I pass her building, when the family gets together for dinners, as her favorite song plays in my shuffled playlist; she is everywhere…I didn’t know how much of me was made of her, and I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand, but having you here is something I’ll forever be grateful for.
The manipulation it takes one to fall deeply into abusive dynamics in relationships may seem unbelievable to those looking at these sorts of relationships from the outside in, but the fact of the matter is that abusive manipulation occurs in all sorts of different ways.
Through messages I’d received through books, and through the messages I’d received from people around me my whole life, I’d been told that relationships have a playbook that they start and develop by, and had either desperately misconstrued these messages or taken the really damaging ones to heart.
In my hand was a boarding pass for a flight to Madrid, the first stop on a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, an ancient route that has attracted religious and secular travelers for centuries. Aside from the aforementioned backpack and shoes, I was diving way outside of my comfort zone without as much as a clear idea of where exactly in Spain the journey would take me.
It’s important to consider how the technology we use everyday can help us foster long-term, healthy relationships, as its ability to do this sometimes becomes forgotten amongst its variety of other impressive technical uses.
By even taking the steps to [come out], a person is committing a radical act in making themselves vulnerable to the world around them—is taking a radical act in choosing to live their truth in a society that conditions them to do otherwise.
“When we black women are given the opportunity to see other black women just like us—just as funny, awesome, quirky, or nerdy as us—it instills within us an unspeakable sense of empowerment that has been robbed from us by oppression.”