Orange blossom honey
finely ground cocoa
whipped shea butter
is what melanin
is made of.
This body is not yours.
It never was.
It is your mother's.
You have her hips,
the very ones that cracked open
to give birth to a girl
with many generations
intermingled in her newborn cries.
It is your grandmother's.
You have her full lips,
the soft pressure that kissed away
the tears staining your cheeks.
You’ve never known your great-grandmother,
but have met her eyes every morning
in the mirror,
and when you go through old photographs
and find her picture,
you notice that the only difference
between your face and hers
is the fatigue her brown eyes contained,
and you briefly wonder
if you’ll inherit her bags later in life too.
The legs of your aunt are dry with burns and scars
that tell a story of survival;
no amount of shea butter and marula oil
will ever smooth away the marks of her pain.
You have your sister’s hands
assumed to have never bled like the hands of the women
who broke from the coffins
they were forced to lie in.
When there are days when you don’t love yourself,
from your mother’s hips to your grandmother’s eyes,
that these women are a part of you,
living in you.
Minerve Jean is a Haitian-born storyteller who shares her poetry and writings unapologetically. She believes in the power of words and their ability to help and heal. Her debut book For The Secrets That Gave Themselves Away is an anthology of raw poetry where she uses words to paint pictures that will resonate with the human soul. She has also contributed pieces to Hercampus, Orange and Blue Magazine and MLNNYC. In her free time, she likes to snack on Avocado toast and curl up with a good book.