Poem by TPEP participant Jocelyn M.
which is how I felt until my belly was on the rise
No one saw me when I ran the streets
or heard my cries
while hunger and neglect ripped me up
and my mother would not let me back inside
But now you see me, rub my belly and want me to sing a happy song.
not because I’m happy
but for my voice to be heard
so that the brothers will remember that we need to be protected, raised up, not felt up
We need safe places to lay our heads
people who can see, respect, and hear you
When you saw that I did not go to school
When I was on the stroll and you drove on by
seeing me climb into a strange man’s car to sell my body to survive
When I sit out on the streets
When my mother allows her men to touch me
Where were you?
Why did you just walk by?
But now my belly makes you see me
Why didn’t you see me before?
I am a child who now has a child which makes me visible to the eye
I am your child, your daughter, your grandchild
I am the next generation looking to rise
Do you hear my cries?
If you know an at-risk pregnant District teenager, encourage her to learn about HBP’s Teen Parent Empowerment Program (TPEP) online or by calling (202) 396-2809.