A Conversation I Never Expected to Have

This poem was performed at Deeply Rooted: A Gathering in May 2016.

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.

Elyssa Salinas Lazarski

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