By Zora B. Hurst
I am a daughter of women.
the product of centuries of four-part harmonies in church choirs,
can’t nobody do me like jesus, no–
can’t nobody do me like tha lord
a carrier of hope for the daughters of daughters
who wanted their children to be masters of their own destinies.
beholden to none.
i am a new age.
my voice comes from king james bible verses
the lord is my shepherd
from motown (because marvin gaye and the commodores are good, true, solid sounds)
from poetry (langston hughes and gwendolyn brooks and maya angelou–names as lush
as the lemon chiffon pies that used to glow on countertops for holidays)
from the connoisseur of sorrow my mother named me after,
“the dawn” in greek.
mistress of prose.
my mother is proud.
head held high, she never let me pity myself, not even at the food bank,
much-loathed loaves of potato bread in tow.
a quiet soul who begat a quiet soul–she, a lover of books, read to her small daughter
nightly. (a being that loved her so desperately that the charred remains of a jello mould
and a kitchen full of acridburningplastic smokesmell stemmed from a single thought:
“I should bake my momma a cake.”)
ovens weren’t easy.
their hearts are mine.
single mothers who just can’t leave for school on time, gospel-humming aunties in
alwayswarm kitchens who hold you because it’s never as easy to tell your mother your
heart is broken as movies make it seem, godmothers of self-conscious children who
never want to leave their beds.
safe in a lockbox for precious, diligent things,
their dreams are mine.
my mother worked long hours.
she went to work before dawn. launched the sun into the sky with stout arms and, to me,
my mind fours years fresh and soft, she knew everything.
how to make stovetop cocoa so rich it hurts,
how to make perfect sandwiches,
how to fold shirts.
she and God would have intimate discussions in the wee hours of the morning when she
thought I was sleeping. her silhouette in the living room paced and murmured and raised
hands to heaven.
complaints were never uttered.
she sang beautifully.
her strength is in me.
i am her child.
i am the daughter of women, and the greatest of them all held my newborn self and whispered
a secret joy passed between her eyes and mine.
i cried at the tenderness of the moment.
joy was no stranger.
Zora B. Hurst is a senior at West High School.