I think it is safe to assume that people know me as this perky, upbeat, positive poet who is energetic and full of life. Or people know me as an inspirational instagrammer who posts about how you can push through no matter the obstacle. And then some people view me as this girl who wins all the awards, gets superb grades, and doesn’t have to worry about a thing in her life. Wrong. I wish I could sit down with each and every individual who views me as “perfect” and tell them my story. To tell them who I really am. To let them know that my poetry stems from dark places. That my poetry stems from abuse, brokenness, and pain. So what better way to tell my story, not only as a poet but a writer for the P&G, than through this. I am the voice of those who have silent stories. I am the voice of those who experience quiet battles. I am sharing mine for you. So, let me reintroduce myself to others and present to the whole student body of Hickman High who I really am. It’s my senior year and I think it’s time for the truth.
Hi, my name is Shakira Marie Cross and I am filled with scars from my past and open wounds that have yet to shut close. I am an orphan. My father died when I was in diapers and binkies. I never knew who he was. I wish I did. My entire side of the family claims that I look like him but they have never fully told me what he died of. I hear stories of massive heart attacks and lung cancers. I am 17 years old and still don’t know. My mother died the summer before the end of my elementary school career. I was 10 years old and I didn’t see it coming. In 5th grade, I was known as the girl that cried a lot. But who could blame me? Thoughts of dying. Thoughts of crying. Not seeing beauty within myself. Not seeing beauty in the world. I sometimes wonder what life would be like if my mom was still around. I just hope she’s proud of who I have become.
Hi, my name is Shakira Marie Cross and I have no clue what family feels like. I never knew that the meaning of step family could mean that with each step I take, it would feel like walking on eggshells. Life flashed before my eyes when I saw my mother at the age of four get dragged by her hair and cigarette burns run through her scalp like it was an ashtray, but I never thought I would see it again at 14. Not with my mother this time. But with my brother. I justified my stepfathers anger with my mother’s passing and us losing almost everything. And I justified my family’s anger towards me as to why our family became divided because I should have kept my mouth closed. Guilt trip after guilt trip and my feet soon began to feel tired. I was exhausted from running away from… fear.
Hi, my name is Shakira Marie Cross and I am ward of the court.
Hi, my name is Shakira Marie Cross and I am separated from my little brother.
Hi, my name is Shakira Marie Cross and I cry. Uncontrollably.
Hi, my name is Shakira Marie Cross and I procrastinate and sometimes don’t do work.
Hi, my name is Shakira Marie Cross and I love Jesus but I cuss. A little.
Hi, my name is Shakira Marie Cross and I am far. Far. Far. From perfect.
Does this information seem new to you at all?
I am the daughter of a breast cancer survivor in heaven and high cheekbones. I am the definition of poetry. To be able to move gracefully through pain. So yeah, I love to smile. I love to laugh. I love bringing positivity into a room without speaking. I love to make people feel happy. I love to motivate and to encourage others. And I love to do all of this not only with my actions but also with my words. I turned to poetry because I was voiceless in a family, in a world, that shut me out. These dark moments you read here, I don’t view them as setbacks but stepping stones. My faith. So what’s life behind a poet? I’m sure you assumed so many things but, to each its own. This is my life behind the words on a page or black curtains on a stage. Hello, Hickman High School. Nice to meet you.