I have given them what they asked of me,

I have sat in classrooms, raised my hand ( not too much or too many times, just enough to show my curiosity, a safe distance from the flame in my belly as to not scare off)

I Listened well, hunched my shoulders and kept my purity until I was old enough to decide.

I ate their eucharist, dry on my tongue, I prostrated at their altars for my sins, I’m still unsure of what they are, I suppose I learned to say sorry for who I was, what I was made of, and what my soul yearned for.

I sat at higher tables, I learned to only share with those you approve of, I surpassed my grandparents and my parents and my siblings in education, position, power and money.

I married a nice white man who gave me a better net worth than my own kin had ever dreamed of (hell, even heard of) which baffled me, marveled me, these numbers seemed almost a game, a game my people did not know the rules of, the rules were kept from, switched up, mixed up and scrambled and then they were told they didn’t try hard enough.

I gave and I gave and I gave.

I was not happy, nor was I too satisfied.

I found myself lacking here, confused, for I gave them the American dream they asked of me, I competed and by all means had won, sparkling accolades, memberships of the elite.  I had used all the trauma and pain and deliberate oppression to overcome.

I still sat at my table anointed in some power that they tried to wipe off of me, to make me clean and pure and digestible.

The worst was I started to not prefer my own taste.

One by one, probably from the children, who, despite that shiny husband, gave them brains and beauty and sensitive souls and functions that didn’t quite fit.

It bursted a protection in me, for if these little ones who were bred from better why were they being told it was not enough?

I had left a lot of myself behind to get this far, and still they told me what to do with my body, with my mothering, with my sexual desires and deep seeded knowing.

My wisdom, which came from those before and before and before me, was of a danger.

It was fine if I kept running, busy and humming and hustling.

Stopping gave pause to anger, which birthed rage.

I looked around with my owl eyes and saw the whole thing was rigged from the start, I was never going to win and I was never allowed full entrance, this was a delight and a game that did not benefit me and the kicker is they had taught me to say thank you for it all the same.

So, I’ve taken to matches.  In the beginning I swallowed them whole, burning my own stomach, singeing my own ribs, it hurt but then so did it all.

When I opened my mouth there was nothing but flames,

A burnt path that I made for myself to walk on.