Poetry · Speaker

A Conversation I Never Expected to Have

Elyssa Salinas performed spoken-word poetry for us at our May gathering. Her words were a clarion call to self-awareness and strength, as she took on Hagar’s hurt and shame, and pleaded with Frida Kahlo for wisdom. Even if you think you don’t like or understand poetry, please watch this performance. You’ll never look at poetry the same way, and may even be inspired to write your own!

 

A Conversation I Never Expected to Have

I was made with more than flesh in mind;

A mind! Imagine that.

A mind that reasons & wonders why

All you see are body parts;

Mountains & valleys that you can walk over & conquer.

Not afraid of rough terrain or how it will fight back,

Just looking for a place to stick your flag.

A claim for all to see that you saw, you came & you conquered.

 

I was made with more than flesh in mind.

Given the gift of womanhood,

Of soft curves, short stature & the hope that one day

I will meet her.

The woman I’m supposed to become –

The woman everyone seems so excited to meet.

 

I was given the gift of womanhood.

A package filled with more than

Sugar in the raw &

Spices to fill the rack.

My womanhood lay underneath

Tissue paper and ribbon.

Gently laid and ready to be assembled.

My limbs were put together by women;

Women older & wiser than me who

Fastened me, piece by piece.

Putting my arm in a socket,

Showing me how to embrace

A sister

A mother &

Telling me one day I won’t need any instruction

To embrace a lover,

I’ll get enough practice when I find him.

Placing my hips low to the ground,

With a laying on of hands

Showing me how to sway when a beat calls to me.

They place my feet firmly on the ground & tell me

Each step I take will lead me

Through pain unbearable &

Toward pleasure unimaginable.

 

I was given this gift of womanhood,

Not you.

As much as you might think my hips sway only in your direction,

My body submits simply to your touch,

& my lips never speak anything but your name.

You are mistaken.

 

My body is not a present for you to unwrap &

Discard when you’re done playing.

My body is a gift from God with

My name on the tag.

 

A God that gave me the ability to create or wait,

Or just to say no if I choose.

My hips are not just childbearing –

They are weight-bearing, rhythm making, melody moving &

Cocked from side to side, depending on my mood.

 

These breasts are not meant for you to unclasp & set free,

To fondle as you dream.

They were meant for me

To push down, push up, fill out my dress if I see fit

& if I want you step

From that plate to touch a new base

I will tell you.

 

And what I hold between my legs

Was never meant to be called

Chastity, virginity, purity or honor.

It was never meant to be

Property, a bicycle, or a revolving door.

What I hold between my legs is not called

Shame.

It has a name

all its own,

but one I choose

& do not have to share with you.

What I hold between my legs is

Beauty beyond measure

Ecstasy without ceasing

A point of pleasure & pain

Of life & death

& it is by invitation only that you get to come.

 

I have the God-given gift of being a woman &

What rests between my legs is divine pleasure,

What resides between my thighs

Is something more than a switch

Labeled

Madonna & Whore

Virgin & Slut

Prude & Pleasing

What I hold between my legs is more

Than a fleshy existence

More than a quick night or fleeting fancy.

 

It is a place where life begins

Where existence is known

And where more women have been hurt

Then you can imagine.

 

I never thought I would have to explain

That my body belongs to me.

That it is my own,

That it does not belong to you.

 

I never thought that my decisions would give you ownership

Of a body that you do not take care of.

A nice dinner might fill my belly,

But do not think of it as admission

To play games and ride around as you please.

Take a whirl all the way to the top &

If you like it,

Make it spin again.

Pay a little extra and maybe it will go backwards?

 

I was made with more than flesh in mind.

I have the God-given gift that you try to turn

Into something I should hide

Or something I should give away.

But I have decided to keep this present,

This ever present gift that is God given,

The gift of being a woman.

Of soft curves, short stature &

That ever present hope that one day

I will be her,

The woman that everyone seems so excited to meet.

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