I lost my virginity before I even knew I had it
Like many pretty things of mine, my cousin had stolen it.

He too was a child when he held me down and jammed
Into the most fragile creek God had left me; hollowing me out
Biting out the tender pit from a too young peach.

My aunt, a mother, saw him stomping, dancing, on the inside of me
So she bit her tongue in half and swallowed hard and whole.

And this thing, this kind of sick disease and dying thing
Created a festering hole into my underwhelming ovaries
That no man could reach, and no miscarried child could soothe.

Do you know the pain it is to live a life in limbo?
Not adult. Not child. Not needed. Not needed. Not needed.

Or how it feels to pull your teeth out because you’re
Unable to answer your daughter’s, “What was your first time like?”
Without blurting out “It was too soon, too black family in the ’90s.”

Or what shame feels like held in the crook of a child’s legs
As she is told to hold close to the boy, now man, that almost killed her?

For years, I hid out of the line of God’s sight,
Fresh flesh left bruising in the sun like unwanted tomatoes.


Jamilla VanDyke-Bailey is an educated, black feminist who uses her pain, her experience, and her laughter to speak disruptions into the silence. This year alone she’s had poetry published in Whiskey Island, and an essay published with Oddball Magazine, and before the year is up she will be published in Pidgeonholes as well. Her thesis collection of poetry, "Black Girls Burn Blue" also received the 2018 David A. Kennedy Award at UMass Boston which allowed her to achieve her Masters in English focused in Creative Writing via Poetry. (Instagram: @jamilladanae).