I come from a family that blames girls.

for the glances at the gas station and the way our bodies curved

too fast

too soon

too close to home, I come from a family that loves girls.

with their hair done

in their best clothes

at the Kingdom Hall on Wednesday and Sunday

I come from a family that shows girls how to perform.

in public

in private

for the eyes whose glances they can’t restrain, I come from a family that teaches girls to behave.

to stand up straight

to not talk back

to act like they know what they’re doing

to act like they know how to act

to act like it never happened

to act like it’ll never happen again, I come from a family that loves girls the only way they know how.

by teaching them how to keep their appearance up

keep their hair done

keep their clothes clean

keep a house

keep a job

keep a man

keep their bodies and family’s secrets hidden

keep them people out our business

I come from women who learned to blame themselves.

because if they didn’t, then he wouldn’t

because “he wouldn’t have”

because “he would never”

but he did anyway, and I come from women who learned it was their fault.

so they taught it to their girls

and teach it to them still

…too fast

…too soon

…too close to home, I come from a family that teaches girls to die.

to kill the part of themselves that knows

that questions

that talks back

that wears shirts that are too tight

and skirts that are too short

that kisses and touches and questions too soon

and wants to feel a pleasure they have a right to feel, but I come from a mother who taught me differently.

to love myself

to love my body

to use it freely

to live life for me, I come from a mother who taught me to leave.

that the only thing worth keeping is my peace of mind

my wholeness

myself

ourselves together, I come from a home learning to heal.

from the choices we didn’t get to make

and the times our bodies weren’t ours

from everything we were taught we are

and everything she and her mom and her mom’s mom learned to be long ago, I come from a mother who kills curses.

born on a plantation

passed down from previous generations

in the stories she won’t tell

and the times she fought back

bruised and pushed against the fire, I come from a mother who says no.

not her kids

not her home

not again

not your fault, I come from a mother who believed me.

and my sister

and my cousins

and everybody else

and eventually herself

when the life was stripped of parts of ourselves we could never bring back

I may come from a family that blames girls, but I come from a home that doesn’t.

from a mother who won’t

who tries to put back together the pieces of us this world broke away

that we had to kill to survive throughout the days

and since I know healing can be facilitated by place, I come home to my mother.

to live

and try again

rewriting ourselves

and reshaping a lineage

with the woman that taught me that being the first is lonely.

I come from a mother who rebirthed a legacy of girls.

safe

seen

loved

protected

and wanting to be whole again.

a budding abolitionist educator who loves to read just talking about my life from the I perspective