In honor of National Poetry Month, espnW is running a weekly poem on influential female athletes and women in sports.
We are made of follow through. Fade away jump shots. Hail Mary buzzer beaters. Double rims. Metal backboards. Pick-up games with grown men on Sundays. Made of tomboy in our blood. Asphalt covered hands. Of, No dresses, please Mom. Just shorts. Baggy. Loose enough to crossover a boy. Made of sports bras. Street slang. Chewed gum. Of ladylike lookin' like cornrows. Of cornrows. Shaved heads. Side pony tails. Hair weaves. New perms. We stay ready to play.
Made of worthy. Grit. Grind. Pat Summitt mentality. Cheryl Miller work ethic. Of everyone saying No to little girls, with big dreams, and Nike headbands, who are picked last at recess. Of recess rebounds. Desk sweat in study halls. First one to take the shot. Last one to leave the gym. Made of, play me. I dare you. Bet you 20 I'll win. Bet you by senior year I'll dunk. Of, lost bets. Ankle weights. Jump to the rim until the moon gets closer. No failure. Just hustle.
Just trying to beat the clock. Just trying to make it to college. Just trying to earn some street cred around these boys. Of, put me in. I'm listening Coach. Teach me how to fly. If not like MJ, then like Cleopatra. Fearless. Like the Houston Comets. Like Kim Perrot in the 4th Quarter. Feminism in a jump shot. Fingerprints on glass backboards.
Made of You're good for a girl. You're ugly as a woman. Made of Mac foundation. For the camera. WNBA commercials shot on fashion runways. Of, I knew you were a lesbian. Of, hidden partners. Lost scholarships. Cut your hair. You're cut from the team. Of, take the hit. Don't hide. Play. Harder. Faster. Victory. Game shot. Dream Team. Cinderella Season. Made of give. And give. And give until you fall.
If you fall, I promise to pick you up. This is how we carry each other to victory. Made of victory laps. Suicide drills. Of, no blood, no foul. Get up woman. Made of woman. Cry in the locker room only, woman. Sweat and blood only, woman. Here. Chase. Hold it. Don't let the ball go even if God, herself, asked for it.
Don't ask for it. Take. Defend. Defend your entire being for four quarters. Two halves. 30 Years. Play to 10. Win by two. Bend your knees. Remember to follow through Renee. Krista. Jennifer. Cynthia. Kim. Lisa. Tisha. Tamika. Ruthie. Mighty Ruthie. Mighty Ruthie. Mighty Ruthie.
We are made of gold.
Janae Johnson is a spoken word poet, teaching artist, educator and co-founder of The House Slam poetry venue in Boston, MA. She is the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion & 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion. Follow her at Twitter @Janae_Johnson_