What the Mirror Said

listen,
you a wonder.
you a city
of a woman.
you got a geography
of your own.
listen,
somebody need a map
to understand you.
somebody need directions
to move around you.
listen,
woman,
you not a no place
anonymous
girl;
mister with his hands on you
he got his hands on
some
damn
body!

– BY Lucille Clifton

hottentot venus to nicki minaj

It was only an ass then
Only a thing to sit on
A thing between your back and your knees
A thing to keep your legs connected to each other
To help you walk proud, upright

Back when I was just Saartjie
Not Venus
Just my mother’s oldest daughter
Poor but dignified
I knew what it meant to raise your head high
To stand and walk tall

They asked me to twerk at midnight too
I was a slave girl
I had no rights
I was in a country totally unfamiliar
But I still said no

And they didn’t force me

They thought I was magic
Poor, little Saartjie could draw a crowd like no other
They would line up to see me
Drawn by that magnetic ass
But how powerful is a chained goat?

They wanted to hold it
I said no
I knew there were some things still worth more than bread and water
I would close my eyes to ignore their searching eyes

You can still say no too, Nicki
You can walk proudly
With all that grandeur
With all that ass
And not place it on a platter for them

You can love your body –
Adore its every curve and indentation
And love it alone

Don’t mistake their applause for admiration, Nicki
They have a sickness too
Those who saw me as other somehow saw themselves too
Their cruel and pulled tight faces were outsiders too
Living outside of what God intended for them
Hoping to find the answer in me

Don’t be fooled my daughter,
One day, you will die too
And they will put you on display like me
Pay homage to that magnificent ass
Make an idol of it
But is that adoration?
Is that true acclaim?

-soo

Myself

I will always want myself. Always. Darling, I wrote myself a love poem two nights ago. I don’t know where you get this from but I am whole; woman who grows flowers between her teeth. I tend to my garden. I dance myself out of pain. You think women like me crawl for pity? You ever seen the offspring of a lion eat grass? This wanting of myself gets stronger with age. I host myself to myself. I am whole.

– Ijeoma Umebinyuo