Submission Saturday | “Ode to the Medusa in Me” by Stephanie Dinsae

Ode to the Medusa in Me

At the age of 3 or 4

I remember being a free child

In Daycare

I would run wild

Whenever I could

Scraping my

Bare knees against brick walls

Had there been no confine

My knees would have been fine

You would think the sting of rubbing

Alcohol would keep me bound

But… it didn’t

Like me, my hair would also run wild

Yearn to be free

Stretch to the sky to claim that agency

Imagine a wild child’s surprise each time I

Was called to come be still

So my mom could tame my hair

She tried so hard to tame it

Only successful temporarily

Because of my hair’s wild nature

I earned myself the nickname

Medusa

In ode to her intense, passionate locs

So many years have passed and for fun

My mom will still call me Medusa sometimes

Confession: I still like to run

Free and my hair as well

Little did I know how lucky

I would be to have been

Named after her as a child

What I’ve realized since then is that

Medusa is synonymous to Black woman

And…Black woman is synonymous to monster

Monster — because they can’t tame her

When she shoots them daggers as gazes

Naturally they can’t take it

Call her gaze an attitude

Call a hurt ego being turned to stone

They tell Medusa she has too much

Backbone

They figure they’ll call her terrifying

Since her confidence

Is jarring

Of course they don’t expect a

Black woman, a Medusa,

Like me

To own her pride

They want Medusa, to

Shrivel up and die

Shrink up and make them

Feel better about themselves

Give them all the space and

Leave none for us

Which is evidently why

They reduced my namesake

To a Gorgon

A bitter, vicious thing

A monster easily defined

Why are they unaware

I, like Medusa, am not someone to be confined

Why else does my hair, like hers

Not fit into neat, straight lines

Medusa knows best that her hair

Has a mind of its own

Defiant and wanting to be left alone

Away from their harm, their danger

Her body or her hair or her mind

Is no stranger

To the slander they bring

So I, like Medusa, use my gaze, my lack of

Response to protect me

My hair is wild, I am wild

And because they fail to tame me

In my entirety, her entirety, in our entirety

They tear down pieces of our appearance

Collage them together to create the narrative they want

For us

And we shock them with our brilliance

Since that narrative does not come from us

The glory of our story

Reduces their narrative to a mere phrase

They’re bound to feel their lies coil around them like snakes

Wrapped around their body

Binding them to their disgrace

There’s no wonder they feared Medusa’s hissing mane

No wonder why it was subject to be tamed

My hair is wild, I am wild

Medusa, Black woman, I, am not someone to be confined

They knew their narrative would be dismantled

It was only a matter of time

See, they attempted to

Handcuff us to the labels of Scary, Imposter, Bitter, Vicious

And in return, we only bounce back more ambitious

So if the definition is “A Black woman becoming stronger”

By all means, call ME, Medusa… a monster

–  Stephanie Dinsae

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