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,
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.