Hiari: A Poem To My Stillborn Daughter

I named you “free will” because I knew you would die before you were born.

You were free to do so.

Those strong heartbeats at every doctor visit didn’t fool me. You were my child so I knew if you wanted to go

you would go.

No amount of “I’m praying for you and the baby” or “a heartbeat that strong won’t just stop”

could convince me that a child conceived

during social turmoil, named free will,

would survive past her due date if the choice were up to her.

You saw through my eyes the ills of the world as I lived them.

The brown boy lying dead in the street 4 hours.

The community protectors shooting and maiming their own citizens.

The government denying my life.

Your life.

You saw it all through my eyes.

And while I did not want to conceive, nor mean to, I was grateful that something good and pure could come out

of the impassioned burning buildings of that time.

I hope my womb cushioned your angst as you, the child named Free Will,

discovered that in our world,

your life is not free.

Your will shall only be threatened and challenged

as long as your hair is like mine

your nose is like mine

your skin black.

I knew your will to be free would have you die before birth.

I don’t blame you,

My sweet Hiari.

I blame myself for deciding the name of Free Will to a baby

born from a fighter and expecting her to choose to be

shackled,

slaved,

and silenced.

Be free, Hiari.