Where the quiet river defines the mountains,
the sun comes to meet the sacred parts of our bodies.
A place where the whole meets the holy in its full sanctity.
We leave our clothes behind with all European standards.
We only shed tears of laughter and
we are not afraid to show our teeth.
Our thoughts no longer mean us harm,
we sing truth like a declaration of freedom.
Our stretch marks are roadmaps to liberation.
They show us that we are made of history.
We flaunt our hair like crowns
unafraid to be told we can’t.
We paint the horizon with shades of our melanin
and make it shine like crystals birthing rainbows.
Love, here we are the light.
Here, we are free to make love to who we are.
Arrogance is no longer a powerful religion
and shame is never the word of God.
When we pray, we say each other’s names.
Our bodies respond to our own decisions
Our stretch marks become guardians of our
Starting Out Late, in the Voice of the Author’s Insecurity
Your black robe couldn’t cover all the years it took you to get ready
I walked you across that stage with the highest honors
in holding your tongue. Please and thank yous, never fuck yous.
I made you fluent in the language of people pleasing
I rolled your smile with your diploma and used it as a straw
to suck every ounce of achievement you could call yours
You printed the final draft of a book you dedicated to your ancestors
College graduation and a new job, putting in your thirty-five year notice
to retirement. I pencil gripped my narcissism and edited the first line:
Thirty-year-old begins her career eight years too late.
I made you snort that line like a drug you couldn’t refuse
I gave you a high that made you feel like the ghostwriter of your own story.
Is your accent too thick? Are they gonna laugh when you speak?
How about their parents? Are you good enough to be someone’s hero?
I dug a deep hole in the ground, hoping you would trip and fall
but you didn’t. Not this time. Instead, you threw in sunflower seeds
and waited for them to grow. You gave your back to me and faced the sun.
Thaina Joyce: (she/her) “I am a Brazilian-American poet and educator based in Maryland. My work has been featured at Sledgehammer Literary Journal, Olney Magazine, and elsewhere. I have poems forthcoming at Black Cat Magazine and New Contrast Magazine. I hope my work will empower, connect the human experience, and evoke new perspectives. Find me on Instagram: @thainawrites and Twitter: @teedistrict.”