by Leslie Holmes
Tears won’t come down my eyes
So I gotta make this poem cry
I’ve held them in for too long
Because I had to be strong
That’s what black women must be
So I take care of everyone but me
I need time for myself
But I do everything for everybody else
I carry the world on my shoulders until my back aches
But I’m not superwoman, chile I need a break!
These burdens are too heavy to bear alone
I need some rest to soothe my sore bones
But instead I just pray the pain away
And wake up the next morning to face another hard day
Can I get a little bit of space?
I’m stressed and it shows all over my face
Bags, wrinkles, even tiny gray hairs
Look at me, does anybody even care?
My soul is crushed and my spirit is drained
Sometimes I feel like my prayers are in vain
Yes, strength is in my blood; I am strong by creation
But I’m done preserving myths formed on cotton plantations
We were objects of the master’s contorted lust
He thought we felt no pain, that’s how he justified raping us
Black women, so full of strength and bravery
Strong black woman, words rooted in racism and slavery
Three words often spoken without realizing
While they seem empowering, they are dehumanizing
You expect me to be strong, never weak or vulnerable
But you forget that I am human, so I am not indestructible
Inside this body dwells a heart
That can sometimes be fragile and torn apart
Strength is what I exert
But I am a person, therefore I still hurt
Like every woman, I harbor deep feelings
To my core I am wounded and in need of healing
I’ve suppressed my troubles, now my heart is sore
I can suffer and cry in silence no more.
Leslie Holmes is a poet, writer, and aspiring author who lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.