My mother tells me to “fix” my hair.
And by fix, she means straighten, whiten,
but how do you fix this shipwrecked
history of hair? The true meaning
of strand-ed. When tresses hug tight
like African cousins in ship bellies.
Did they imagine that their great grand-children would look like us? And would hate them
how we do? Trying to find way to erase
them from our skin; iron them out of our hair.
This wild tangle of hair that strangles air,
you call them wild curls, I call them breathing, ancestors spiraling. Can’t you see them
in this wet hair that waves like hello?
They say Dominicans can do the best hair. Wash, set, flatten the spring in any lock.
But what they mean is we are the best at swallowing amnesia in a cup of morir soñando: die dreaming. We rather do that than live
in this reality between orange juice and milk between reflections of the sun and whiteness.
What they mean is: Why would you date a black man? What they mean is: a prieto cocolo?
What they mean is: Why would two oppressed peple come together? It’s two times the trouble…
What they really mean: Have you thought of your daughter’s hair?
And I don’t tell them that we love like sugarcane.
Brown skinned, pale fleshed, meshed and pure sweetness.
The children of children of fields.
How our bodies curve into one another like an echo.
How I let my curtain of curls blanket us from the world.
How our children will be beautiful of dusked skin, diamond eyes. hair of reclamation. How I will braid pride down their back
and from the moment they leave the womb
they will be born in love with themselves.
My mother tells me to fix my hair and so many words remain unspoken, because I, I don’t reply:
You cannot fix what was never broken.