#1: My foster sister taught me to be strong (a poem)

My foster sister taught me to be strong,
and my Ruthie gave me all the
brains that I needed to fly.
Together, they got me off
the ground
because they loved me.

So why is it that I tear out my
own feather and shutter from
the light? I don't know, and
I actually already do.

It is everything I have already
articulated. It is everything
that needs no more attention.

My Ruthie told me I am so
powerful, and I accomplish everything
I put my mind to. Not can, but
I do. My Ruthie taught me that
my wings open and close so quickly
and so sweetly that their
oscillations are unseen and
never make a sound. And so,
I am a beauty. I am powerful.
I am fierce.

My foster sister said:
"Get you ass up because
your face is too precious
to kiss the dirty floor."

My foster sister is whose
energy I channel to be
strong. But I like that
foster sister always hit
me with her words and
said without words to stop
growing attached to her.

Because she was not my therapist
she was not my mom
and while she taught me to be
strong and in some ways
far more spanked me
without even laying a finger,
actually beat me is the
more accurate word,
my foster sister did me the
greatest favor and my Ruthie
showed me amazing grace,
because they did not make
themselves special in my eyes.
They loved me deeply with the best love there is.
They gave me their heart,
which means they will
always love me, but that
heart they gave was
inside of me.

And that's why my sissy
grew so frustrated. And
why Ruthie hurt my feelings.
And they both hurt me
feelings. And they never
wanted me to let go.
Because I have them inside of
me. It is because I have
me inside of me. It's
because I have our values.

My sisters gave me the
greatest gifts: nothing.
My sisters gave
me the deepest love:

My TT said, "You had it in you
all along.
We've always
believed in you.
We've always
known you could."

So she did believe
and she went and did.

She went and told her
mom: "You're not my
mom anymore. You
cannot parent me.
You will not parent me,
and that is not my

She sat down and said,
"Enough is enough.
If I can't work for
integrity, then I shall
live my integrity,
and I shall find a
way to get paid for it."

My sisters clung to me
with the robe of
many colors, they
never let the lions tear
it to shreds,
and they were never my God.

That is the difference
between now and before.
That is the intimacy I needed
never had
and received to
parent Little Bird.

Oh, my foster sister,
and my Ruthie: They
will always be my
mommas. They have
given me their
heart. But a momma
is not who they are
or what I ever

A momma is not to
care for me but care
to me. She is not
responsible for me. She
is responsible to me.
She nourishes me.
She feeds me.
She loves me.
She knows.

Because she is knowing me
to know myself.
these sisters,
my foster sister
my Ruthie
my core
m m m m m
They love me.
They are never scared
that I will grow to be
greater and better than
I was so I will not need them.
They do not glory in my suffering.
They take no pleasure in
my dependency.

They will not tolerate
my acting out.
They have nothing to give
me that I do not have
and everything to teach
me as the woman I
am now but it is because
they are powerless to change me.

That is parenting.
That is maturity.
That is the growing up
and learnededness I
always needed.

My mommas love me so much
that they are proud of
my setting the world on
fire so I no longer need
the propane gas tanks.

I am so bright I am the
light in my night stars.
I am my baby's fire
and flames.

Do you know how bold it
felt to be beautiful today?

I am a Big Friendly Giant.

Oh! When I am not
dependent on my mother!
I hate calling her that,
because she did not
nurse me milk and
only nurses an opioid. 
I was bred to hate
that woman, and that
woman bred herself to hate me.
There is no joy in codependency
because we are not
designed to need each
other. We are wired to
fail because we always
have too short a circuit.
We will never learn enough
jump enough
yell loud enough
skip rope quick enough


is your standard,
Little Bird?

Is it your mothers'
or is it hers?

That dark circle
grieving heart spirit
that fiendish
creature eating at your heart
has no strings.

They are the demons on the
boat with no power other
than to scream.

Bird, Quit your Little.
You have wings to fly,
not ears to steer.

Remember what your momma said.

Remember what your momma said.

Remember what your momma said.

Ruthie, I love you.
I am sad, my Maya, don't you know
how much I need you?
Because you are in my heart.
You are inside of me.
You held up my arms when I
was weak but I was not
weak, I was strong.

There was never a time
where I was where I shouldn't be.
You gave me your breasts
so I would grow.
What the fuck else was your baby
to be?

Baby, I am not angry at you.
Baby, you were perfect.
Woman, you are perfect.

Everything my foster sister taught
me to be strong is the
spirit who roars when she
steps forth to conquer her currently
unrighteously claimed

Ruthie, you are Ellie,
Ellie, you are elephant.
I can't believe how much
you loved me. I love you.
You loved yourself.

You loved yourself so much
you were not worried to
see me fly.
It is such an ugly thing
that she said. 
She was the only one in
it for the profit.
Your job is to work yourself
out of a job.
Her mission is to
reign through my
lineage forever.

You fools! You who watch
and say, "Draw near
to her!" Because wellness
is not an outcome
and an outcome is not
productive for one person.

You go do everything -
everything you wish to reprimand
my irresponsibility for you,
because as long as you live,
you will die waiting on my
affection. I will never, ever,
ever, love for you again.
What I need is not her. What
I need is not about her
at all. I have no need
without her. With her, I
only have need.
You gnash your terrible teeth
and you roar your terrible
roar. You do it as
long as you like.
But you will never ever own me.
If my roaring did not scare
them away, then your will
not tremble my heart.
My brokenness was
the brokenness
your brokenness
needing to be fulfilled.
You will not secure my destiny.
My destiny is already here.
I know it
because He has not changed.
His Grace has not faltered.
Talk your talk,
speak your speak
and I will mine.



The eagle goes to bed tonight.
The eagle renests after a
long flight.

I am everything I ever wanted
and nothing I thought I'd have.
I have far exceeded my greatest expectations.

So Little Bird,
when your song
grows weary to
sing along with
Langston, and
don't you even blink.


Photography © natalie rose eddings