I used to imagine the woman that I could have been. I imagined her fierce, with honey-toned legs, stretching miles of land barefoot. Skin gentle and worthy of touch. I imagined her bathing in the ocean, with water so clear you could see her from the clouds. I imagined the woman I could have been slicing mangos on the porch of her pink house in Cidra. She would be there on the front stoop next to her Abuela, smiling through the gap in her front teeth. She and her brother would bike down the winding roads lined with flamboyan trees to get to school. There, the children would pile into rooms speaking Spanish and boys would comment on the size of her curves, “estás preciosa, mira sus caderas”. I became someone else instead of the woman I could have been.
This is what was.
I am the product of an island woman with big hips and a wide-mouthed grin. When she lifts her shirt you can see the c-section scars from where they took me out of her, bawling, big, black and beautiful, with a full head of nappy hair. My mami is a handwoven basket holding all the things the people she loves most cannot carry. My mami is a pillar, she cannot be moved, she holds herself sturdy, feet planted in the sand with eyes of a conqueror. I am the product of a green-eyed caramel skinned man. He was handsome and lively. My mami entertained a lot of men she did not love until the night my papi lept into her arms, they pressed close. My papi slow danced down the back of her thighs and he knew before she did. She held him while he wept under the light of the moon on the dance-floor. They would find themselves waking up in the same bed the following morning, having allowed their bodies to love what they had loved. My mami left with a belly full of magic and my papi laid up thinking, “estás preciosa, mira sus caderas”.
This is what is.
When I have my own child, she will come out of me smooth with my own blood. I will offer myself up to be her pillar, I will be her basket, I will hold her. I will show her how to heal herself, how to bathe her body in lavender when she comes home holding onto too much. We will plant a garden of magnolia flowers on top of where all the hurt happened.
This is what can be.