My mother
A Taino queen from Puerto Rico
With the fairest skin and
Silky jet black hair that flows
like a raven through the sky
Her fingers able to caress every strand
with a simple stroke and
every piece falls back
exactly as it once was
without any evidence
Little did she did she know
she would birth a young Latinx queen
with a head full of hair that expands outward and downward
settling on my shoulders
are curly locks from root to end
Hair
My mother didn’t know how to tend to this curly fro
She didn’t know how to change the texture of my hair
So that it was tamed
one of six women in her household yet none had hair like mine
they taught me how to close my legs when I sat
how to accessorize
how to moisturize and condition
and most importantly how to
apply handfuls of sulfate
that would tame the Maine
which was rightfully given to me
Greña
“Peinate la greña” he says
my father with an accent that stems from la isla de Hispaniola
where the women portray themselves to look like euro statues
cynched waist,straight hair and extra points
if you come from a barrio of colored eyes
by nature our women have nappy roots
which must be subdued to rolos and dubis
otherwise we didn’t try hard enough to appear beautiful.
My father
He spent Hours in the salon
waiting while i took a seat in the throne that would validate
my appearance with applied heat and a rounded brush
that combed away my roots.
Peinate
Porque no te peinaste?
They ask when you’re at a family party
Although my locks are well moisturized and coiled to perfection
When what they really mean is
why didn’t you straighten your hair so that it can appear beautiful, controlled and silky straight
because without your hair withstanding
the flowing fan test my dear,
in your skin you are not beautiful.
 
 
I am not my hair
we try to convince ourselves.
That we will not be defined by how long,short,curly or nappy our hair
may appear.
We want you to see what we see in the mirror
Mi pelo
My hair does reflect where I come from
Where women tend to their children with compassion and warmth
Where their curves are like mountains in a valley
following the kinky curl pattern aligned with every hair follicle
that shapes the roundness of our faces
I grew into my hair
With endless attempts to nurture and care for the strands
that would frame the woman I was aiming to become
Free from the peine.
 
**Image credit: Firelei Baez, Vessels of Genealogies.
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