Truly Phenomenal

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

Maya Angelou was always an inspiration to me.

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size  

I read, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” when I was about 10. Not exactly regular reading material for a 10-year-old, but My Mom is a librarian and, growing up, I read anything I could get my hands on.

But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.

I was profoundly moved.

I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.  

I read, “The Heart of a Woman,” but none of her other autobiographies. I did, however, breathe her poetry like a cool breeze on a hot day.

I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I’ve always had a sense of pride about my heritage. Paternally, my family roots have been traced back to Ghana. We are the oldest documented black family in the US. Our ancestors were slaves at Mt. Vernon. A portion of my family tree hangs in the Smithsonian museum in DC. So her poems about black history like “Still I Rise,”were always moving to me. But the thing that truly resonated, the thing that gave me pause, made me stop and consider myself, was her poetry about being a woman.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,  
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.  
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.  

I had so much to learn about what it means to be a woman.

I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,  
And the flash of my teeth,  
The swing in my waist,  
And the joy in my feet.  

I was fat and awkward and I didn’t know who I was. But when I read her poetry, I felt… Strong. Like I could deal with my life.

I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

She was eloquent and intelligent and she knew who she was, wasn’t afraid of who she was.

Men themselves have wondered  
What they see in me.

As a girl, a teenager, a young woman, I struggled. Struggled with my identity, with my sexuality, with my self-esteem, with my role as a daughter, mother, student, friend, lover, me. I wanted to grow up, but I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what I was supposed to grow up into.

They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.

Dr. Angelou gave me a light. A guess. An estimate of who I might be someday.

When I try to show them,  
They say they still can’t see. 

It wasn’t like I aspired to be like her. I don’t think I have ever thought that way. I knew that I needed to be me, unique, special.

I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,  
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.

And over the years, I went back to her poems. Sporadically, not a constant thing. And through the years, as I grew older, as I evolved and changed, I kept going back. I kept reminding myself that yes, I can be attractive and funny and smart and still be me.

I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I did grow up.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.  
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.  
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.

I became an adult. A woman. With many identities and personas; smart, sexy, loving, caring, mother, daughter, wife, lover, friend, student, teacher, survivor.

I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,  
The bend of my hair,  
the palm of my hand,  
The need for my care.

And I can feel it in my soul when I say it’s

’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 Rest in peace Dr. Angelou. You made the world a better place.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. movieguy41
    May 31, 2014 @ 09:06:58



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