Inside These Padded Walls

This is a poem I wrote in my sophomore year in high school for my mother. Although I say strong “Black” women, I believe that all women of all races are strong women. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and mother figures.
Strong Black Women
As strong black women, we have eyes that can explore the depths of anyone’s soul
Our hands are soft and worn from having washed and scrubbed toilet bowls
The ears by which we hear have heard all the lies and truths of the world
Our tastes in food, style, and music have changed since we were little girls
We help raise our brothers, sisters, and cousins
So they can also become strong black women and men
Our hearts have carried burdens and hate
Our tongues are like fire and can never wait
Whether we have foul mouths or not
Our point gets to those that have forgot
That we are strong black women

Whether we are coated in baggy jeans or a miniskirt
Inside it’s that same hurt
Disrespected and put down for so long
We had to retaliate and become strong
No more of the whining
And asking for wining and dining
We pay our own way
And there’s strength in everything we say
We are becoming a majority in the college and business scene
We want to be heard and seen
So that everyone knows that we are strong black women

Our skin tones range from milk to caramel to chocolate
And there is beauty in every pore, so no one can forget
Our face or name
We impact men and other women just the same
See there’s intelligence in our minds
And divine poise in our spines
We were made to carry beauty and define it
That’s right. They’re Maybelline. We were born with it.
Our virtues and intellect don’t change with the fashions
Nor do we disrespect ourselves for a moment of passion
Because we are strong black women

We have endured the most pain presently and in the past
Because we are black, and we were created last
When we succeed in the world, men question their manliness
They make it harder for us even though we offer friendliness
But now we are climbing bigger mountains and frying bigger fish
Our realities are becoming bigger than we ever dreamed or wished
We believe that there is no limit and no obstacle we can’t overcome
Because dreams were restricted with obstacles where we are from
We work hard to keep ourselves above the murky waters of society
So to prevent future erosion and floods we stand as oak and maple trees
Reminders that we are strong black women

If the men were men, then we wouldn’t have to fill their roles
For our sons, we wouldn’t have to fill those empty holes
In doing this, we show not only them, but other nonbelievers
That we can be more than fabulous divas but focused achievers
From Ms. Tubman to the first black female President of the U.S.
We will continue to defy the odds and fight for success
Whether we paint it in a picture or write it in poetry
Or say it in a speech or personify it in a story
Whether we sing it in a song or rock it on a chain
Or take a picture of it and put it in a frame
It’s all the same message; we are strong black women
I was in a long-term relationship at this time. That person and I had been through a lot and I had gotten to the point when what had brought us together couldn’t keep us together. I know some of you all have been there.
Faded smiles aged by pain
Sunrays hidden behind clouds and rain
Moments held dear lost in the abyss
The warm sensation gone from a kiss
How did we get here?
What brought us together
Can’t keep us together
Waves of uncertainty took out castle of sand
Too weak from the hurt to stand
How did we get here?
Was it all a façade?
Never written in the plan of God?
Maybe it was a phase held on for too long
We’ve been believing in something so wrong
How did we get here?
Loving each other from a distance
Knowing a flame will light in an instant
If we were to meet again
But the cycle must end
How did we get here?
If we are meant to be
Then let us be
If not, let us let it go
It won’t matter that we won’t know
How did we get here?