to my ancestors

Were you also shamed

For being born female?

Did you feel the need to apologize

For being made of curved lines

And soft skin,

For having a mind of your own?

Did you learn how to cast down your eyes

Cover up,

Be respectable,

While a wild heart beat in your chest?

I picture you laced into a corset

Or maybe dutifully underneath a man you did not love

Your body like an offering.

Was your wandering mind

The only thing you could call your own?

To what exotic place did you go?

What poems did you write,

What music did you orchestrate?

Could a canvas hold all of the colors you dreamed in?

What rules did you defy

In the name of impropriety?

Who was the lover who finally tamed the wildness of you?

In the morning, when you dressed the part again,

Did you condense your ocean into a single drop

Hold it in your palm and feel the weight of it,

The passion and the possibilities that you would never live?

Was it a bitter pill to take?

Sometimes I look in the mirror

And see a demure set of green eyes

With worlds in them, unrealized,

Right before I blink.

Are they yours?

Did you swallow your screams when you brought your daughters into the world?

I sleep, and I dream your sorrow.

I wake, and I carry all of your pain and hope.