Written by Sara Diaz
Edited by Skye Patton
A poem about the sexualization of a Black Woman’s body and the stolen innocence of her youth. Includes photographic artworks by Deana Lawson.
I recall back when you saw the curvature of my back bend.
You used to live in Athens.
Steady trees and black rims
On your grass Timbs
Did you see my ass bend?
The curvature of these thighs may be your demise.
Your lustful desires have made me a Jezebel
Since the age of three.
Here I am,
Caught in a web of trials and tribulations,
Caught in a liminal space
On the avenues of an innocent child and a grown-ass woman.
An innocent mind that transcends the bounds of age.
Who am I masquerading as?
Am I a big-bodied woman still waiting to be born?
Or, did my mind stop aging when my curves outgrew the widths of my imagination and wicked wonder?
Did my baby face turn into a resting bitch stare once my body could be perceived?
“Pucker up your matte red lips,
You’re too grown to act your young age.”
“You’re too young to have the build of a big-bodied woman.”
…who relaxes her hair to relax the pressure of her crunched coils and sinfulness.
It’s always You,
If my ass falls out, will you catch the shit I’ve had to deal with?
Well, I’ve been known to glide as I walk the streets.
The streets you’ve scrutinized.
The streets where you’ve observed this fat ass with a gold-toothed hunger
like you about to say Trick-or-Treat.
What 14-year-old possesses the anguish of a woman divorced from her own body?
I’ve been a woman since I was birthed.
I was wrapped up in a pink blanket,
Iron-clad to the fabric because I was
Showing Too Much!
I was taught to hide my innocence in glass and break it in case of emergency.
“No, sir, I’m a minor.”
“I’m not of age.”
“I don’t send nudes.”
When will I become the woman I want to be when
the expectations are pushed on to me?
DEANA LAWSON, BABY SLEEP, 2009, COPYRIGHT DEANA LAWSON, COURTESY OF SIKKEMA JENKINS & CO, NEW YORK