Urban Voices

A place for emerging urban Christian poets to be heard

May 18, 2007

Beautiful

by Angela Shumpert Abrams

Taking coarse strands of my daughter’s hair,
I weave a stiff cord in a crooked pattern
She sits as I sat between my mother’s lap,
my mother’s arthritic fingers untangling my pride.
The art I now practice learned too soon.

My unsteady hands grease, pull, twist. Grease, pull, twist.
I relax to the end of each braid,
only to tense when I start another.
I lay my daughter facedown on my lap to rest.
Not ten minutes before she was crying

as she felt the wooden ropes hit her shoulders.
My daughter was not proud of the scrubby locks.
Her voice droned a pitiful song. She wanted the
silky sleek look of her friends’ hair. She wanted
to buy chemicals that would make her dark coils

fall limp. I reach up and smooth a strand
of my relaxed hair back into its bun.
It frizzes from the years of conforming the tight curls
to the pressures of jobs, friends, and family.
My daughter has learned that she is not

what beauty is meant to be, although I have not told her what my mother
told me, “You can only be beautiful if others think you so.”
I cannot hold my head as high as my daughter can.
She will know the better beauty of her skin, her face, and
her hair. For now she knows that she does not look

like they look, she does not have what they have,
and she is not what they are. One day she will make
the choice between becoming what others think she should be
and being who she is. Maybe on that day she will realize
that beauty is in the mind of the beautiful.

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About this week's author:

Angela says: I now live in Jackson as a homemaker with my husband and two children. I was always part of small communities before I came to Jackson. I was born in Northeast MS in a little community (Dorsey-Evergreen) of about 500-800 people. I knew each and every one of my neighbors, never really considered being neighbors to strangers. Urban living has been a new experience to me, one I've had to adapt to and learn to appreciate. The harmonious country sounds of crickets, dogs, and wind blowing through trees are replaced by the cacophonous, but no less musical, city sounds of cars, sirens, and airplanes. I have found that being connected with God keeps me connected with the people around me and keeps me from feeling isolated or indifferent. I reach to God when I need peace and comfort, which surround the issues that worry me and allow me to express those issues truthfully and ruthlessly.

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Urban Voices Archive

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Urban Voices' purpose is to showcase the work of emerging poets who write about issues of urban life, racial identity, reconciliation and similar themes from a Christian perspective. If you have poetry you would like to submit for possible inclusion on this site, you may send it to info@urban-verses.com. Thanks for reading and writing!