Women Who Raised Each Other

There are no men in my family
Makes them foreign creatures to me
Exotic in their beauty
Sisterhood is far more familiar to me


No granddaddy to sit me on his knee
My father was too mean to my mama and too docile with the second wife
So what is a husband?
She who pays the bills runs the household
So what does it mean to rely on someone else?


We are the women who raised each other
Aunt Mable kept a shotgun
We defend our own honor
That nigga hit her so I’m knocking on his door
My mouth thinks I have more testosterone than my muscles could ever deliver
But who else gone do it?
We have no one to hide behind
We walk down dark alleys alone prepared to bear whatever might happen
We absorb the pain; we keep it movin
All we got is us


What would it mean to have two parents in a house who loved each other?
Who will we be buried next to?
And what of these little boys?
Can we ever make them men?
No; we coddle them
Shield them from accepting responsibility and never set them free
Baby boy might be the only man who never leaves me


I want to be like that nuclear family on TV
but my guts’ been nagging me
Saying “baby girl, that’s a pipe dream”


I study old couples like a foreign language
Teach me a tongue in which I can trust
Translate for me shared responsibility
We are the girls who chase boys away
Or maybe pick ones never worthy of entering this convent
They are lacking in piety


All I’ve ever learned is ‘niggas ain’t shit’
And it’s not from pontification; this is what I’ve witnessed
So how can I ever believe a promise of forever?
That idea is as fantastic as the Star Wars trilogy
Science fiction


Yes there’s some logic there but where is the live evidence?


So what do we do with these little boys?
Not one raised to be better than his predecessor
Have we failed these men?
Taught them to fail their women?
Breast fed for too long so they learn to be parasites


I bought my own house
No one to work that yard or take the trash out
So I keep a job that pays enough that I can hire someone to do man things
I can only depend on me; folk too easily take off those rings
We are the women who raised each other


We become mothers not knowing our fathers
How do you teach a daughter to be nothing like you?
We repeat mistakes
Pat on the back if you reached 18 without pregnancy
We are the girls who raised each other


We pick each other up when men drop us like belt buckles hitting the floor with a clank
He moves on; it’s moving time
Hot summer days in ponytails we load the truck
Men become our nemeses
Pain givers; pleasure seekers
Our expectations fall lower and still they can’t deliver
And yet we love them
Keep buying those dreams
And paying for them
We are the women who raised each other


We hold each other closely
We love each other fiercely
We guard each other nobly
We are the women who raised each other