Shamed for being too vulnerable,
chastised for being strong.
No permission to be weak,
balancing the world on your shoulders.
If you refuse,
it just may topple.
Few take up the mantle, the burden,
to care, raise, provide and protect,
‘May I,’ litters your tongue lest your actions be mistaken for insolence,
instead of survival.
It’s all about survival.
The idea of freedom is just as perplexing,
Free to work, free to self-educate – well at least some of us – free to think,
but not to speak, challenge, or rebuke.
One’s opinions, caution, wisdom mistaken as disrespect.
Or theologically incorrect.
Words spoken to ensure you stay in your place.
If you are not careful, any semblance of peace you do have could vanish,
in a twinkling of an eye.
Aim high, but don’t you dare fly.
Be but don’t think you actually exist.
Caught somewhere between humanity and deity.
Sex object and goddess.
Jezebel and mammy.
Yet power, true power no where in reach.
Too constrained and tried to feel and breathe.
Slowly destroying the mind,
killing the spirit,
until you become a version of your former self.
That’s where dreams die,
that’s where the will to change ceases.
The hope of living in another world where equality could actually be real becomes foreign,
All of the visions of yesteryear are replaced by the wish for rescue by any means necessary.
No longer about revolution or upheaving the wretched system of patriarchy that created this mess.
No capacity to think about the possibilities.
Responsibilities and expectations choke life out of you.
And still, you march on.
You march on for your sisters and daughters.
Your mothers and grandmothers.
Your nieces and play cousins.
Understanding the quitting isn’t truly an option.
If you really want to survive.