Black Women Wombs

poetry by Jasmin Lankford

Black Women Wombs

My black body knows this doctor won’t believe her. 

Three doctors and not one can confirm the pain or death. 

 

They all ask for pee, as if my body is still pregnant, 

as if a part of me didn’t die, as if there’s no blood. 

 

My body is already drowning in the loss.

There’s an ocean inside me. 

 

This doctor claims my boyfriend didn’t rape my body, 

but the manmade Great Pacific Garbage Patch pollutes the sea. 

 

He says my body didn’t protect me, as if she had a choice. 

My body was a fish choking on spilled oil, not the boat or waves. 

 

This doctor asks if my body can keep sea creatures alive. 

 

Even as white picket fence families vacation on her shore

with cigarette butts and plastic bottles, she supports the ecosystem. 

 

My body didn’t ask for this. Didn’t pick this rip current rotation

of doctors who don’t believe black women. She got hurt, she got sick. 

 

She’s scared. My body is just trying to bury the baby 

beneath coral reefs and swim to the surface for rebirth.

 

She’s not trying to worry about murky water wombs or beached

whale relationships. She just doesn’t want to keep sinking.

Freshwater Pearls

poetry by Jasmin Lankford

Freshwater Pearls

I had a dream last night I was nursing my newborn baby. 

In a rocking chair, I cradled her warm body against my belly and wept. 

 

Her pink onesie was soft like freshwater pearls and pillow feathers. 

Her lips against my breast, the most connected to myself I have ever been.

 

I had a dream last night with a slumber eyed, half-moon smile man.

We were the clam shells closing together before the pearl forms.

 

Our bodies a snug fit, our love language in sleep. 

I must have known him before we even met.

 

I had a dream last night and I woke up remembering it was reality.

His hips rammed into me hard, stirring me out of my sleep.

 

I had a dream last night the doorbell rang at my childhood home.

There was no moon to light the darkness when I opened the door. 

 

It was a little baby girl. Her skin was black, her eyes glowing white. 

She held a knife and lunged forward to stab me. I stabbed her first.

At the Beach with Belle

poetry by Jasmin Lankford

At the Beach with Belle

I.

 

In the dream, she reached toddler twos, soft curly hair filled with sand.

Wide smile, white swimsuit with ruffles already dripping wet water. 

 

The breeze blows as she dances in circles, my brown-skinned beautiful baby.

Belle is sunshine sticky, no music needed, moving lighter than love feels. 

 

II.

 

It was a Sunday. We never made it to the sea. A quiet church 

whispered amen, praying for her soul to ascend to heaven. 

 

My porcelain princess, crown of curls, missed her carriage. 

The beast, my belly, took her breath. I try to sleep away the silence.

 

III.

 

In the dream, Belle builds a castle surrounded by sunflowers in the sand.

A prince commissions the villagers to fashion yellow petals into a dress

 

but soon, Belle doesn’t like the dress or the villagers or the flowers

and douses them with water, giggling as she returns to the waves.

 

IV.

 

I cradle my empty arms, try to forgive my body. I didn’t know 

I was the beast in the storybook, but I hope to finish the fairytale.

 

I plant seeds in the sand every Sunday so the water will give birth to them.

My beach chair is a throne in a princess castle, as if this is all just pretend. 

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Jasmin Lankford

Jasmin Lankford is a poet, cat mom, and world wanderer living in Tampa, Florida. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Communications. Once upon a time she studied Creative Writing in Paris. Jasmin currently works in social media marketing and volunteers with Heard ‘Em Say Teen Poetry. Follow her @jasmin_justlisten on Instagram.