I’m twenty-five now, shit, that means I have to stop fucking around, that means I need to find out how to deal with all this blood, men, the stretch marks on my shoulders, the absolute mortality of my parents. This is the first true poem I’ve written in months and I’ve got all these words buzz buzz buzzing around inside of me, they were right, I just had to give it time and meanwhile I keep missing dentist’s appointments, keep fattening myself up on sugar and boys with big eyes and big lashes and I haven’t grown out of girlhood yet because my nails break and I cry, my hair falls out and I cry, my tits are too big and I cry and I am growing into my mother and we cry at all the same things. She told me she was sorry for the years my dad wove my heavy hair into braids but I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry dad for never accepting or claiming my blackness because even now as a grown ass black woman, dark alleys, and shadowy street corners still scare the fuck out of me. I see black boys running and black girls crying and vice versa and both and this fence right here I built myself, this distance I created myself. The punchline is that my dad spent so many hours braiding my hair that I never learned how to do it myself, the punchline is that we are still nursing our black tender heads. This poem will not absolve me of all my sins or even scrub me clean but I am turning the faucet on, I am picking up the sponge, I am attacking my cuticles with unprecedented ferocity. Meanwhile, my blackness sticks its head out of the window and howls.