To Ms. Della Faye Carter, from the rose in your garden
You picked me up and planted me into this earth.
I don’t know why you picked me but at that moment, I felt like Simba being shown off to the proud lands. I felt like Cinderella when the glass slipper slid right onto her foot. I felt like a bride on her wedding day. I felt like a woman with a fresh new cut and a woman with new hair all in one.
Was it because of what you saw that I would become once I was nurtured or was it because you needed me to help you become the person you wanted to be?
You woke up at the crack of dawn to water me with your tears. You sang to me about the sun smiling down from a blue sky onto evergreen forests and clear blue waters, about lightning bolts striking through vicious purple mountains, winds gushing from the point where wet and dry meet. You woke up at the crack of dawn to nurture me even when you had no hope, no energy, or purpose. You risked your life every day for the sake of mine. You chopped the heads of serpents not questioning whether they were there to harm or help me.
Sometimes I wonder, did I need you or did you need me?
Sometimes I wonder, did you pick me for the sake of me or you?
When you left it hurted like hell.
Yes, the heavenly father watered me but without you, I still felt lonely.
I know you miss me and I miss you too.
You have prepared me for all seasons.
You have prepared me for sunshine and thunderstorms.
It is time that I nurture myself.
I know that you are pouring your sweat and tears into others.
I thank you and hope that I have helped strengthen your roots as you have helped me
In order to live
I’ve told myself that it isn’t easy out there.
I’ve told myself this world will chew me up and spit me out.
So I’ve done what I figured would be best.
So I’ve done what I figured would help me survive.
I created an armor.
I froze my heart, my emotions, and cut the string to anything or anyone that has ever loved me.
Then somewhere, somehow, someplace, something changed in the blink of an eye.
I began to find peace in this cold, heartless, unloving world.
I began to love.
I began to find love.
I tell myself that the world loves me in its own kind of way.
I tell myself that it’s like a rollercoaster out there. There will be moments when my stomach drops
and moments when my laughter is unstoppable.
I tell myself that I will bloom and the world will provide all kinds of weather.
I tell myself the world is beautiful.
I tell myself that the world is perfectly imperfect.
My name is the first thing I ever owned
My name is forgettable to the customers that shop at my job yet unforgettable to the people I’ve
shared tears and laughter with
My name is sweet and sour
My name is the first day of summer and the last day of winter
My name is like a slug laying in salt,
a thorn on the people’s tongue that will never have my trust
My name is permanent yet ephemeral
My name tastes like black licorice, the smell of rotten eggs, and
the bitterness of stank breath,
a weight on the girl’s tongue that saw me: vulnerable, uncut, sun shining, full of laughter,
My name taste like the sweet juicy watermelon my grandmother cut for me and my cousin’s
during the hot Mississippi summers,
A piece of candy on the tongue of the girl I made mud pies with in the neighborhood
When it is my time to shine I will shine like the blazing sun
My name along with my Lord Savior will be the only two that stick before and after I bloom into
the flower I want (meant) to become
My name is the title of my book
My name is the title of me
JALEIA CARTER attends Forest Hill High School in Jackson, MS. An alumna of the McMullan Young Writers Workshop at Millsaps College, Jaleia discovered her passion for poetry in ninth grade after watching a spoken word video. She has been writing for six years and writing poetry for three. She is truly thankful for people that have helped her discover her talent but most importantly, she thanks the man above who blessed her with this gift and desire.