I’m Excited for your future, Chesna

*I wrote this poem for Chesna Thompson on her 21st Birthday

When I look at you

I see an embodiment of the women in the Bible

I see the warm closeness of Ruth

I see the hospitality of Lydia

I see the courage of Esther

I see the respect of Elizabeth

I see the beauty of Sarah

I see a woman who embodies Proverbs 31, paraphrased

You are worth far more than rubies

People have full confidence in you and you lack nothing in value

You bring good and not harm all the days of your life

You are clothed with strength and dignity

You speak with wisdom

When I look at you, I see Mary’s faith

But wait, society would deem this too religious

Photo by Ben Thompson of his daughter, Chesna Thompson
So let me try this again

When I look at you

I see a strong Coloured woman

One that has accepted the cards that she has been dealt with

But who knows that people are playing her game

I see someone who is politically conscious

Who is trying to fight the system

Dealing with structural problems

And stopping the cyclical nature of issues

I see someone who is willing to fight for what she believes in

And who stands her ground

Someone who is not willing to be pushed around

I see a born-free who isn’t born-free of the struggle

Someone who is fighting the struggle daily

Whose protest has been continuous for 21 years

Who is fighting just to breathe in the system

But wait, society would label this as too political

Photo by Shyrelene Thompson of her daughter, Chesna Thompson
So, let me try this again

When I look at you

I see rugby and I relate it to your strength

Of soccer and how you aren’t offside

Of netball and how you adhere to the 3 second rule as you don’t hold grudges

Of athletics and how you jump over hurdles

Of hockey and how you can defend yourself

Of squash and your immaculate pace

Of basketball and how energetic you are

Of gymnastics and how flexible you are in different situations

Of tennis and how durable you are in trying times

Of swimming and your amazing precision

Of water polo and how much stamina you have

Of karate and your fighting spirit

Of weight-lifting and how you’re able to carry people’s problems on your shoulders

But wait, society would state that this is too sporty

Photo by Share-leigh Darries of her best friend Chesna, during her university hockey match. 
So let me try this again

When I look at you

I see the opposite of the rand as you have not decreased in value

Instead you have appreciated like the dollar to the rand

I see how your parents have invested in you

How your essence has not depreciated in value

How you are as powerful as the JSE

You have refused to negotiate on your values and principles

Your presence is costly

I think of the concept of marginal utility that is based on the relationship between happiness and consumption

So the more people consume your presence and energy, the happier they are

I see how you have gained sovereignty over your life

How your maturity has ascended

How you are certain of yourself

But wait, society will deem this too economical

Photo by Shyrelene Thompson

So let me try this again

In fact no, I won’t

You are not defined by what society deems, labels or states

I’m excited because in a world that will tell you that you’re too religious, too political, too sporty, and too economical

You will not conform to their standards

I’m excited because you are yourself, unapologetically

I look at your skin

Your skin drenched in melanin

Your skin that has been kissed by the Sun

Your skin that in itself speaks volumes

You, right now in your skin, you are yourself unapologetically

I’m excited for your future

The standards that you’ll fight

The limitations you will exceed

The expectations you will surpass

I’m excited because you are yourself, unapologetically

Feature image taken by Shyrelene Thompson


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