She is a living record of what can’t be found in history books.
Not even the most skilled artist can capture
the layers of life that she wears
on her face like armor.
Each crease, sculpted
by the love for her children.
No nip and tuck to help erase
the bitter winters that pierced through her skin like daggers.
Or the nights she laid her head
against bare floors that bore blisters on her spirit.
No sweet lullaby to sing
for the aspirations
she carried on her back.
Her eyes, heavy from centuries of disappointment
have witnessed birth, death, love, hate.
Her lips, have only spoken the truth even when she wasn’t understood.
Navigating through unfamiliar places, with strange faces, and labeled an alien.
A word used to describe anything that is different.
Never fulfilling prophecies of men destined to be kings,
but instead nurtured boys whose lives would end before they began
like Emmitt Till, Ramarley Graham, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin,
or the ones who never make the news like Manual Diaz or Cesar Cruz.
Searching for justice in a foreign land,
ambition is now placed in the hands of future generations
who don’t even know the strength they possess.
Little girl, you are beauty, you are love, you are special
Little boy you are strength, you are honor, you are noble
Reclaim what is rightfully yours.
For the footsteps of our ancestors have long faded
and history has pushed its way into the present
We, are here now
We, are history that hasn’t been written yet.
© Nancy Arroyo Ruffin. Published by permission in Centro Voices on 24 April 2015