Pink Ribbon

She called herself a survivor.
To you, that is what she was.
To her, it didn’t matter that it came back, that
this time it would take her life, that
guerrilla warfare occupied every territory of her body, that
her soul was being forced from a home it knew
for only three decades,
barely settled in before
covering itself in white covers
within white walls
as if preparing for the only color flag
she could raise.⠀

She called herself a survivor,
knowing something
was growing inside of her that
she could not control, that
once was hers but has long ago become something
she no longer recognizes, that
is playing Mother Nature and Father Time,
cheating her of the universe she envisioned
once cradled comfortably in her palms,
space and time now extinct
leaving only a gravitating grave to ground her.

She called herself a survivor.
That is not what she was,
that is what she is.
She unapologetically stares you down with empty eyes
tired, but resolute,
dares you to defy reality.⠀

Delirium from metastases is written in her charts-
she is having delusions.
But you think of her words,
see her eyes when you close your own,
realize you didn’t just walk into a hospital room,
you walked into a waging war you can’t see,
confined within a woman trying to hold
everything together,

Confined within a woman who still
wraps herself in pink ribbon.

how do you comfort a person who is dying?

let them vocalize their hopes, their fears, their grief, their anger, their frustrations, their denial, their acceptance
sit there, in silence, listening, letting their thoughts find a place that isn’t caged in their heads, replaying over and over
let them hang their burdens out to dry, so they can confront them,
so they can hear their tongue for the first time taste what they were maybe too frightened, too ashamed, too naive to admit

and don’t pretend to know what it feels like to walk in their shoes-
you don’t, because you are dying, but your dying isn’t their dying,
life isn’t on timelapse,
and there is no one way a person should or can react to something as existential as their mortality-

so sit in silence and listen
let them speak of their grief,
do not feel saddened, do not feel shame
because there is power
in letting their soul occupy a space their body can no longer recognize,
in sitting-silently, listening-to witness.

rise

what do you know
about bathing
in sunlight
have you felt it’s
warmth embrace
your skin?
let the gaze
of blazing
beauty
illuminate
even the
darkest parts
of yourself?
this is how
you know
you’re alive
this is how
you know
you rise
day after day
you rise
you rise
you rise

but even when you set
you are just as radiant

what do you know about
strolling in moonlight
have you felt
betrayed
by its changing faces?
they are only cycles,
crescent means
you have more to grow
and there is still light
soft-
teaching you the brilliance
of the glow carried within
dripping
from your skin
this is how
you know
you’re alive
and night after night
you still rise
you rise
you rise
you rise

raise your girls with these words:

becourage

courage runs in your veins
you are birthed from generations of women
who have learned to carry swords like
their blood carries oxygen,
who wield their tongues as artillery
and write their wisdoms down in a book called survival
b r e a t h e
in your ancestry-
speak as they do,
stand erect with a spine built from the history they have left you,
never broken
prove you are worthy of this war,
that your body is worn like indestructible armor,
that the enemy will never be able
to draw their weapon first
because you strike at their hearts
with peace and love packaged in womanhood
a gift-do not let them tear at your wrapping,
convince you of your worth,
reduce you to dirt-
you will grow from remains of ashes,
fill your lungs with strength,
inspire the poison and know
your existence is the antidote.

Reflecting [iii] | History

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“I stopped giving him his medication,”
she said.
A slight pause,
a moment of hesitation.

“Our house burned down.
We have nothing left.”

I wish I offered comfort
In a silence heavy
with the unsaid.
But I was a student,
frozen by a struggle
I could not heal,
Regretting the words
I did not use.