“A toast to the good times and the ugly times too because they make me”—Zora Howard
This is for the girls who cornered me in the gym room,
who put my shoes in the toilet,
who threw milkshake on my clothes,
Amen, because you carved my mouth into an opera house.
teaching me my voice is not a surrender
that my fists are peace offerings.
for the boys who would aim for me during dodge ball,
amen to making these legs nimble.
for the kids who picked me last for every game,
amen for teaching me how to be human,
one with compassion for blood,
because I will always pick everyone first to be on my team.
for the junior high bully
who said I was too dark to be human.
You’re right, I’m not human.
I am so much galaxy and light
you would have sworn I had given birth to the sun.
I am stars skipping across the sky in brilliant dances of color.
My skin is a brilliant dance of color.
Amen to people who were friends to my face
but were the first to stab in me the back.
You have made my spine straighter,
my rib cage into a breast plate
my heart a coveted wish,
Amen to the father, who told me I would be nothing,
who said I was useless with all his teeth.
Amen to the motherfuckers who told me,
“No you can’t.”
I dare you, tell me I can’t.
Motherfuckers, watch me supernova.
to my sister who wished me dead on my birthday,
you made me love myself more.
Amen to love.
amen to civil war I was,
amen to the bare knuckle fist fight I was,
Amen to the slit wrists I was.
Amen for being more than survivor.
Amen for being the fight and the lover.
To the Independence Day I am.
To the celebration that I always be.
Amen for being so heavy with every dying star.
Amen to seeing the next day,
Amen for being so full of light the darkness can’t swallow you.
Amen to not being the strangled neck,
to not being the kicked out chair.
Amen to nights of unbearable sadness,
ones that drown you silence.
Amen to second chances.
Amen to falling,
for the get back up.
Amen to being pushed down,
because I will get back up.
Amen to failing,
because I will get the fuck back up.
for this universe of a body,
this sun of a heart,
for everything that tried to beat the breath
out of me,
for everything that tried to stop you
from existing in this moment
We are a toast to all that is in stardust prayers.
We are what happened
when the universe dreams
and it comes true.
I. S. Jones
Currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing, I.S. Jones is teaching fellow at Hofstra University. I.S. Jones has been previously published in Fat City Review, Chaparral, as well two college based magazines. She currently co-edits for Chaparral.