Illustration by Jaye Elizabeth Johnson

if i were to have a daughter i would teach her self-preservation,
tell her how safe her bodyspace is and
show her how to take care of it.
i would call myself mama and her anything she wanted and
let her make her own choices and
even if they didn’t turn out so good
i’d never say “i told you so.”
i would show her how to keep herself whole and
how to keep it together and
how to keep it real
because being broken sometimes is always
because if you don’t learn healing i will take longer when you need to.
if i gave birth to another or
chose her from the earth and made her a home,
i would teach her about her hair and
its beauty and its purpose and its meaning but
how so much else is important.
i would recognize that being older means that the world
seems to change a thousand times faster
that i can’t adapt as fast as she might
that she’ll always know different
that i always could learn.
i would ask her about life and see what she knew and
i would grow inside for it.

i’d tell her about opening her chest to the sky and
how being outside makes everything feel good
even in the heat
even in the wind.

i’d teach her about the power of women and
i’d ask her to find sisters, mothers, everywhere
because having their hands to hold makes everything easier, softer,
like breathing and bleeding and crying and pain and
happy feels higher and
happy feels like home.
i’ll help her become a sister, a daughter, who holds,
so her bodyspace might become safe for someone
as mine,
i pray,
became for her.