my father only called me during his lunch breaks or on his way home. he never saved my number in his motorola flip phone. at my grandfather’s funeral i was another stranger dressed in black, in my mother’s bed i was his noble daughter. i don’t know how to heal from this tidal wave of neglect. i too make shameful secrets out of people. one moment you are my beloved lighthouse, the next you are seagrass wading on the ocean’s floor

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i think of mya. i just ask what’s her name. i only invited her on a tea date. i might of told her i love her. what womxn don’t i love. i love my mama, my sistas, my frands. i ain’t know mya ain’t have nobody tell her they love her before. she melted into an ocean at my feet. just cause i say i love you to someone don’t mean i’m finna stay. i been the current at a womxn’s feet, the thing they both need to live and are afraid will kill them, i thaw out all my burdens and still they walk away. i be wondering, if being a fxck gxrl is a forever kind of thing or just a body (of water) we wade in until we are reborn.

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woke up one day and all the womxn i’ve ever hurt scents, lashes, and curl patterns were etched into my forearms. i can’t unsee the grief floating about their dilated pupils. i…i ain’t…want to walk away. i ain’t tryna be a fxck gxrl when i say this but, i pray the depression out mya’s wailing body. i’m sorry her tender heart came at the cost of my healing. 

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i caress my trembling face, look myself in the eyes and say, you fucked up, you harmed nxggas sis. just cause a fuck boy made you don’t mean you are your father’s daughter. this ain’t god like. god love all her nxggas and still she ain’t no fxck gxrl. stop tryna be like god and be like you. 

Cover Art by Yunha Hwang

This poem was chosen by Nikky Finney as the winner of the 2020 Blood Orange Review Poetry Contest. She wrote the following:

I was completely slayed by the poet’s honesty. Uncut. Sharp as a blade. Impolite and essential all in the same breath. There was an unevenness in the technical body of the poem that I worried about but soon found obliterated by the ultimate message of the work. The original language of “fxck gxrls” or “i been the/ current at a women’s feet, the thing they both/ need to live and are afraid will kill them,” does not wait for the reader to wander in. It’s a poem that grabs as it reaches. The poet is in the reader’s face dangling their smoking candor and their brutal truths. The ocean as metaphor continues throughout. All of this of course geysers from “the tidal wave of neglect” the poet is writing out of. There are other poems that are far more complete and tidy but none that are more necessary.

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Maurisa Li-A-Ping
Maurisa Li-A-Ping

Maurisa Li-A-Ping is a writer and educator raised in Brooklyn, New York. Her commitment to poetry and higher education can be seen through her publications in Puerto del Sol, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Celebrating Twenty Years of Black Girlhood: The Lauryn Hill Reader, About Campus, and forthcoming work in Obsidian. She has earned a MSEd in Higher Education Student Affairs and is a current MFA candidate at Randolph College. Learn more at MaurisaLiAPing.com.

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