Lauren H. White is an author and advocate for mental healing. She received her B.A. in English and Master of Arts in Teaching from Covenant College on Lookout Mountain, GA.

Wife, mother, and bipolar survivor, Lauren has begun to venture beyond collegiate publication in The Thorn (2009, 2010, under her maiden name). She’s one of eleven artists featured in ELLA Library’s Reflections on Generosity and Thanks: A Collection of Poems. Proceeds benefit ELLA’s mission to empower community through story and art.

Lauren’s voice exposes the roots of grief and growth, the moment anguish deepens hope. You can connect with her life and work on Instagram @healing_bipolar_and_beyond.

The following piece was written in response to acts of racial violence perpetuated during the spring and summer of 2020. Since its conception, I have learned the danger of equating or equalizing different kinds of suffering, especially suffering in which I am more witness than victim. I have mental illness, but I am not a person of color. I have been subject to social discrimination and injustice in the healthcare system, but I don’t fear for my life every time I leave my home.

I need to listen far more than I speak. Please forgive my self-centric heart. I have a lot to learn. When you read this, look to the beauty that remains: our dignity and our lament. We have made, and we will bear. Our daughters will weep too.

 –LHW

 

Litany for Our Daughters

ALL:

Baby girl, don’t sleep now.
Keep them eyes awake.
Keep your ears a-listening,
Loud enough to break.
Now’s no time for tremble-hiding.
You got war and time for crying.
Dream the Dream and keep on flying:
‘Til you feel Earth quake.

 

MOTHER I:

Open alabaster eyes
And see your mama drain,
Breathing death daily, dye in her lungs.
We’ve swallowed pills,
Offered our arms to injections,
And still the mind shatters, joints swollen, skin flakes.
Our children, if born, wail without nursing,
For our breasts can’t sustain with the drugs in our veins.

 

MOTHER II:

Open curled ebony ears
And hear your mama’s pain,
Bleeding death daily, hounded and hung.
We’ve swallowed kills,
Offered our thighs to subjections,
And still the welts fester, fears hinder, skin bakes.
Our children, if born, die without justice,
For our love can’t protect from the wolves at the reins.

 

ALL:

When you’re grown, you’ll realize

Grief will flow like water.
When you’re grown, you’ll realize
Tears have known you, daughter.

 

MOTHER I:

Sometimes a trickle, thin sliver of rain.
Sometimes a breaker slams knees to grit’s grain.

 

MOTHER II:

Sometimes a drink in the stars shows the way.
Sometimes a hurricane flattens the hay.

 

ALL:

So baby girl, don’t quit now.
Keep them eyes awake.
Keep your ears a-listening,
Soft enough to break.
Now’s no time to be caught sleeping.
You got peace and time for weeping.
Keep on praying long as reaping
‘Til the Heavens shake.

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