Rubies

By Grace Przywara

1st Place, Poetry, Create | Encounter 2019


Her color is beautiful. No need to go into wood or food metaphors about it–

her melanin needs no reference, no testimonial.

4c hair and eyes that scintillate.

A tragedy that she must prove herself to her pale

playmates, classmates, colleagues, and yet

the expectations remain of unbreakable strength:

the Harriets, the Zoras and her Janies, the Rosas,

“Black women will save America.”

Can’t she rest? Can’t she take care of herself?

Unbreakable as she can be, can’t she have the option

to shatter once in a while? to be lovingly repaired?

Can she rest from being underestimated,

overestimated–from estimation?

Can’t her worth be counted beyond beauty, beyond what

she’s conquered, but her existence?

Let every breath be her currency. Each heartbeat her rubies.

Give her this. She is tired of asking, of hashtagging her life matters.

Somewhere in the darkness, silently,

plans for more precious melanin pass

into production. A black queen builds

her black princess, and no matter

what she becomes or overcomes, she will

have her mother’s hair, her breakability,

and her ruby heartbeats.

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