I still feel the coil of your gray hair between my fingers. The oils grandmother used on our scalps drips down the part in your hair. I handle this earth with care for she is delicate. Oh how your brown skin hums melodies we cannot trace but remember; like the recipes we boil in pots.
My hands glide down silk arms light enough to wrap around my neck. Your strength transfers into a new vessel as I pick you up. You smile against my breast and we nest like two lovers reunited. I am familiar with this scene. You were me and we were meeting under the midwife’s reach.
I stare at my baby and pray I can give life to her. Take my life for her. But her might kept me here and her essence fills the morning air. I remember mother’s fingers in the coil of my hair, and I know who life has chosen.
My love for sunflowers started when I was 8 years old. I saw one growing in the backyard. My mother said, “the seed must have followed the wind to our house.” I thought that was amazing; a sunflower seed flying in the wind and landing boldly in the center of our lawn. Throughout the summer, I saw its head raise to the sky and fall at night. I thought the sunflower was sad because the sun went away. This was hard for me to see: a bold, tall, and bright being with its head hung low.
The next week I sat at an art desk my mother bought me. I loved to draw and paint on the weekends when I wasn’t harassing my siblings. The sunflower with its head low was seared into my mind, into my heart. So I picked up my pencil and started sketching, and then I started painting. Mom walked past me after an hour and smiled.
“Why did you give the sunflower feet?” she asked. I picked up my paper with two sunflowers running toward the sun and walked to the window to look at the sunflower. Its head was high and its leaves dancing in the slight wind of the afternoon.
“This way it can chase the sun forever, mommy.” I laugh at this memory now. A child unknowingly drawing an image of herself.
I stared in the mirror one morning. I searched along the sculpted edges the universe created. For years I covered up what I thought was flawed and uninteresting. I attracted the flawed and uninteresting.
Now, I have arrived at the thought: I am all that I am. There is no one more loved than a being that loves itself.