lit issue 2020

Stories You Wish Your Mother Told You

She did not love 

her first boyfriend either,

even though he’s your dad. 

Keep your options open,

because she was 

the bougie yellow girl 

who wrapped 

Johnnie, Jean-Pierre, and Frantz 

around her finger. 

Keep your options open,

because your aunt

was the bougie brown girl

who kept Junior, Francois, and Ricardo 

in her back pocket. 

The hair that grows everywhere, 

from the thick bush 

on your head to down there 

does not have to be tamed. 

Though she tried.

She shaped her waist to submission,

going to sleep in belts 

and drinking lemon water 

but you don’t have to.

Your relationship with men

will be strange.

Where she came up, 

it was expected to kiss the feet of men

though she was a goddess. 

She taught you to cover, 

to be awkward in your own curves 

because she hated the

the big bones she gave you

She made you learn a foreigner’s tongue,

kept the sway out of your hips, 

because she thought there was no room for 

Third World Girls.

The stories she never told you

were the heirlooms 

she never gave you