February Femininity

my foremothers didn’t call you sisters

they sat in slave-built gowns and giggled

from across the ocean

that the earth was in fact not flat but shaped like a breast

with an unmistakable nipple protruding at the summit

they marveled at tales of native peoples, finding time to wonder

while someone brushed their hair

if those people were fully people after all

they sat inside, protecting the paleness of their skin from the sun

because it held their power

my foremothers didn’t call you sisters

they colluded

and married powerful men

and publicly performed acts of piety

to become elitists and oppressors

my foremothers didn’t call you sisters

they were mistresses who turned a blind eye

who adorned themselves with the brand of virginity

they were silent for a very long time

and that echoing deafening silence still rings in my ears

my foremothers didn’t call you sisters

because they didn’t take the time to know you

they built their own academies and preschools and yoga studios

took their daddy’s dirty money and never looked back

bought every appliance they’d ever wanted or been told they should really try

served a select few until they were pink in the face and then pretended it was blush and wooed some old guys while they were at it

convincing themselves that stockpiling cash in fundraisers for their children’s privileged education was charity rather than self interest

my foremothers didn’t call you sisters

they pointed to divisions in class

protected themselves from sunburn in the shadow of empire

tokenized your presence to affect the appearance of their clubs

ignored your persecution and showed up with signs to protest moments of progress towards your liberation

my foremothers didn’t call you sisters

they were too busy becoming pregnant and bearing the patriarchy over and over again

traveling to your homeland to snap a few photos and accrue more culture points

romanticizing their own roots and preserving half stories

fetishizing your body and kissing it to increase the hunger of a man in the room

reminding him that you were conquerable

my foremothers didn’t call you sisters

they are guilty of crimes that may never be punished

they paved the way for me to receive a piece of plastic

one piece of ocean-clogging material with a bar code

that can be scanned

to open doors and gates

and purchase food

and if I don’t share even before I’ve digested

if I don’t read aloud from the pages of the books

and tell you what I’ve been privy to learn

            Will I ever call you sister? Lover? Friend?