We Are the Daughters

I wrote this poem for myself, and for all the transforming women of color I met this weekend in Detroit. Mabuhay.

We Are the Daughters

We are the daughters of the forgotten, the skinned, the given-up in the trenches
by the roadside
We are the daughters once covered in blankets, helpless heaps
without shields
We are the beaten with sticks, paddles, belts, and bricks
We are the daughters of violence
And the violated
Our mothers knew the pain of childbirth without anesthesia
contractions throbbing with wariness
We are the daughters of doubters, the relentlessly uncertain
We are the first documented, freshly counted
The ones who know community by faith, street, and fringe living
Not by gathering, similarity, or food
Our mothers and fathers are the immigrants – the forced travelers – thrown
We are the daughters with honor, without legacy
With riches, without inheritance
Our traditions are storytelling, sharing, remembering
Branding it in our minds because it will not be texted, printed, distributed, categorized, considered
We are the daughters of gates
Passing through with filthy, but functioning feet
We are the ones sacrificed, priced, shamed
We are all of these
We are all of these
Our troubles are less jagged than our mothers
Our survival less in question
Our thriving dependant upon more our will, not chance
We are the daughters of the umpteenth strokes of window washers
And poor wages
We are the daughters of cruel legislature, temporary amnesty, refugee camps, and collision
We are the daughters of grain, cotton, las floras, and sugar cane
We are the divergent behaviors, red with depression, pale with negligence
We are the mules of silence, withholding, and secrecy
Our tongues speak our history, hyphens
Bridging the borders of land and sea
We are speakeasies, the back alley ways
We know the gravel and dirt roads
The railroads sound in our dreams and whistles goodbye
We are the daughters of stopped clocks, crossovers, irreverence, heat
We flip paradoxes on the tips of our lashes, especially within ourselves
We look for madness, familiar
We know the smell of grass cut by machetes
We are the daughters of failed government, tastes of sovereignty, uprising
We are the daughters of broken tsinelas, broken hearts, broken bones
We are the daughters of the vanished, the unforgiven, the debted, the disappeared, the murdered
The long funerals, the lonely guitar, the rambling corner, the panic rooms
We are the daughters of slurs and political graffiti
We are the walkers through fresh basil gardens with our fathers
The orphaned sparrow
We are the sought prize of many, those waiting to kidnap us
To lure us with scholarships and jimmies
To convince us we deserve better, we are better
Than our ancestors who couldn’t read a coke bottle
Forget them, they say
They want us
They want us badly
To be human erasure for a war waged against our blood, our families
To slowly abolish the mass graves,
glossing over them with petals and dowry
Our deliverance eradicates the atrocities, the scratched signatures allowing the rapes
their misnomers, their wide eyed pretense
they want us to bow to the ivory tower, the one granting us degrees
they want us to forget the hours, lives, humanity that was stolen from our people
they want to shave us clean from any bandages, scars, proof of their imperialistic sodomy
they want us to forsake our memories and accept their offertory
our privilege circles our feet, hopscotching our destinies, leading us away
they want us to be grateful, but not mirror our mothers
or drink from the same clay cups, or splinter from the same broom
they want us to be fed, but hungry for more, and therefore compliant
they do not know that we are the daughters of hair, Brown, restless, and fight
they want to brainwash, inculcate us
but they do not remember our mother’s blood is not a drying stain, but a free flowing wound from which we still suckle and warm ourselves
we feed ourselves
we are the daughters of vision
and we are the thieves
stealing, taking, claiming, owning the
land, fish, air we righteously and already own
we take and give back to our foremothers, we kneel before our scrolls of imprisonment
We breathe easier
But we live with memorials and pledges
We invoke what we did not live through
We remember our reasons
Our mothers were never bought
And we cannot be sold
We are the daughters of a thousand dreams
we are both the fruition and bearers of completion
We are the daughters of swallowing caves
Erupting ground
cracking trees
and mulberry scents

We are the daughters the world hoped would die in the bellies of our mothers

We are the unlost, thrice self-found
And rejoicing

8 thoughts on “We Are the Daughters

  1. pinkblog

    you made me cry at work!

  2. fab

    Girl– wow, very moving piece.

  3. Sudy

    thanks women.

    it’s for you.

  4. Blackamazon

    GREAT 1 more tears!

    Wonderful tears

  5. brownfemi

    girlll….you take my breath away. so beautiful, so so beautiful.

  6. nadia

    oh wow sudy. i am speechless.

    i love it. <3

  7. jasmine

    Sudy – This is so so beautiful and powerful. Thank you for your courageous vision and voice and for your grace in sharing this with all of us. much love –

  8. johanna

    Oh, this is wonderful!! You said you cried during my reading in the WOC zines workshop; now I’ve returned the favor.


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