It hits me hard and fast, like a lightning bolt. The darkness of my skin solidifies into thick bark to build a fortress of protection in my heart. My feet escape from under me and stretch into the ground and I curl my toes into the searing dirt because I ground humanity. The coiled curls of my head elongate into the sky and create a crown of leaves that shade the world from its troubles. I am a tree. I am strong and I am rooted and I am a protector. I am a black woman. My eternal resilience shakes every crash of a powerful wave off. I am a black woman who rises from every single beat down of society who knows I can go through anything so that I say nothing. Yet I still get walked over because everyone thinks that their footprints that mark me with struggle make no difference. I’m supposed to make myself quiet because my outcry threatens them because they cause it. I hold my head down because I have to.
Now I shrink and get smaller with every second. The hard exterior of bark cracks and flees from my body in an explosion of past strength. The feet that rooted me shrink and become smaller until they become small veins just below the surface. My leaves shake off and turn into delicate petals framing a bud. Now I am a flower and I am fragile and I am delicate. I am a black girl. I’m allowed to be protected because with the slightest trample I crumple and I become tainted. I’m allowed to want to be delicate because I no longer root myself deeper into the ground. I’m allowed to be fragile because I don’t stretch myself every which way. Everyone allows me to cry and they don’t feel uncomfortable. They marvel at my innocent beauty and allow me to bloom on my own instead of rushing me to grow so that I can give them oxygen. They don’t hurt me because they know I can handle it. They refuse to hurt me because I won’t handle it.
How can I be a flower when everyone sees me as a tree? Whenever I complain about being a tree, I turn into the violent thrashing of a wind that blows everyone into a state of exposure. My dark skin is made of melanin and not metal. It gets cut and bruised and I have to heal again. I’m not bulletproof and nothing ricochets, instead it resonates. I’m a tree, but my branches are broken, my head is barren of leaves, and my roots are about to give out. Flowers are strong but they look fragile. I want to be a flower, healthy and delicate and when I’m ready, I can be a tree that cares yet doesn’t kill myself. Why don’t you become a tree? Why do you expect my skin and my body to turn into a hard trunk for you when you could do it yourself? Think about it. What will hit you fast like a lightning bolt and when?
Esosa Zuwa is an aspiring author hailing from Canada. Passionate about all things writing, poetry, and commentary, Esosa loves using her storytelling gifts to inspire and evoke strong and hopeful emotions in people. Her poems have been published on the Teen Ink blog and she has written for The Prose Train. When not writing, you can find her gushing over fictional men written by women, fangirling over 20+ k-pop groups, having world tours in her living room, and attempting to navigate the turbulent but fascinating waters of teenage life. Like Issa Rae, she is rooting for everybody Black. You can visit her website: https://esosazuwa.carrd.co/#