"They passed down more than scars" & "Color study my black girlhood"

They passed down more than scars

You gave me more than
this nose
is yours
And mines
You gave me more than
these wounds
are yours
and mines
You gave me more than
this laugh
is yours — ha —
and mines
You gave me more than
this fear
is yours
and mines
You gave more than
this strength, this skin, this softness
is yours
and mines
these cheekbones, this grit, this grin, this healing balm, these recipes, this greenthumb, this wide
gap tooth, these full lips, these full hips, this sharp wit, this thick hair,
is yours
and mines
And to it I will add
something
that is my own.


Color study my black girlhood

Hard squish of gums hitting the concrete;
and the stain there after —
Volvo in the driveway, the color
only fast lil girls wear.

What’s that on your hips little girl?
Can’t be much of anything, nothing
more or less than your imagination.

Deads birds with an inheritance
bigger than yours, given a proper
burial deep in the dark earth.

That one empty house with
pink stucco walls, pool full
of frogs, the only thing that
stayed after the cops kicked
in the walls.

Blue raspberry huggie wrapped
in foil, and he likes you because
he thinks your camisole is a bra.

What you little girls up to?
Minin’ grown folks business.
Brown hand in browner hand,
sun crisped — matching tans.

Happily swimming in Atlantic
lakes, and sprinklers and pools
out past the waves, far until
you wash up.

On the Southside, at your Grandma’s
for thick cut bacon and apple butter.
Red truck, red tomatoes, red knees.

Hey little girl, you so pretty.


Maya Lewis

is a poet and mixed-media artist who lives in Brooklyn, NY. She works in book publishing and is an avid pop-culture enthusiast. She is the co-founder of the NONAC, a bi-monthly literary newsletter and a member of the Inkluded Academy, a program focused on diversifying the publishing industry. Maya is a Brooklyn Poets 2021 Fellow and has been published in Womanly Magazine and Lolwe, among others. @sourxmaya

All contributions from Maya Lewis

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