American HERstory

1 min
Image of Summer 2020

Who am I?
Who has planted in my mind
That to understand me
I must look back in time?


Mom played
Ran circles around her home—
A fortress used by her mother to create more distance.
She couldn’t penetrate it or her mother’s heart.
In the cold, northern winter air, her small jacket hugged tightly as her only warm embrace.
This urban poverty didn’t feel much like the freedom Big Mama had hoped for.
Mom dreamed of a better life.
She wasn’t to be stopped.


Grandma played
She listened to the sound of her mother’s angelic voice.
It soothed both children within this one daughter.
Her teetering father was a humble man who cared too much
She couldn’t make her mom see past his failures.
They both left him behind for greener pastures
She never looked back.
Grandma dreamed of a simple life of love, mental health, and married-into wealth.
The children?— The babies always grew up.


Big Mama played
Surrounded by the rural open earth of oppressive crops,
The Black daughter of a white man.
Her fair skin wasn’t light enough to keep him alive.
Big Mama dreamed he wasn’t killed by bigots. He promised to take her to the park and play.
She said ‘I will make it in the American City up north.
Life has got to be better there.’


I played.
Constantly exploring, asking questions and being busy.
Who am I?
I feel the determination.
Who am I?
I feel the draw to find mental calm.
Who am I?
I feel the longing for societal peace to replace personal tragedy.
They steer me.
I am me alone but also a sum of them.


A few words for the author? Comment below. 6 comments

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Image of Jojo W
Jojo W · ago
May HERstory live long and grow strong all while being calm in the mix of it all. Great poem.
Image of Rena Cotton
Rena Cotton · ago
Thank you for the support!
Image of Houda Belabd
Houda Belabd · ago
Emancipation comes through learning, reading, the art of living and open-mindedness. Many women in rural areas or in any community that has been hit hard by the hate media have gone through this process of empowerment. I love your poem and I'm glad to vote for you, dear "competitor"!
Image of Rena Cotton
Rena Cotton · ago
Well said! You’re so right about learning. Thank you for the support.
Image of Tony Martello
Tony Martello · ago
Powerful poem, Rena. I can see how the voices make you think about who you are and where you come from. I enjoyed it! 5 votes-my full support. Check out my entry, "Green Springs" in the creative nonfiction category and vote if you like it! Tony
Image of Rena Cotton
Rena Cotton · ago
Thank you so much for the support and kind words! And will do re reading ‘Green Springs.’