Sonya Renee Taylor

My Mother’s Belly

Volume 17:4, Fall 2016 
Slam Issue


The bread of her waist, a loaf
we would knead with 8 year old palms
sweaty from play. My brother and I marvelled
at the ridges and grooves. How they would summit at her navel.
How her belly looked like a walnut. How we were once seeds
that resided inside.
We giggled whenever she would recline on the couch,
lift her shirt, unbutton her pants, let her belly spread like cake batter in a pan.
It was as much a treat as licking the sweet from electric mixers on birthdays.

The undulating of my mother’s belly was not
a shame she hid from her children. She knew
we came from this. Seemed grateful.
Her belly was a gift we kept passing between us.
It was both hers, of her body
and ours for having made it new, different.
Her belly was an altar of flesh built in remembrance
of us, by us.

What remains of my mother’s belly
resides in a container of ashes I keep in a closet.
Every once and again, I open the box,
sift through the fine crystals with palms
that were once eight. Feel the grooves and ridges
that do not summit now but rill through fingers.
Granules that are so much more salt
that sweet today. And yet, still I marvel
at her once body. Even in this form say,
“I came from this.”


Sonya Renee Taylor is the founder and Radical Executive Officer of The Body is Not An Apology, an international movement and organization committed to radical self-love and body empowerment as the foundational tool for social justice and global transformation. Taylor is a former national and international poetry slam champion, author, educator and activist. She was named one of Planned Parenthood's 99 Dream Keepers in 2015, a Planned Parenthood Generation Action 2015 Outstanding Partner awardee, and one of the 12 Women Who Paved the Way for Body Positivity by Bustle Magazine in September 2015. Taylor’s work has been featured on HBO, BET, MTV, TV One, NPR, PBS, CNN, and Oxygen Network, as well as in The New York Times, New York Magazine,,, Huffington Post, Vogue Australia,, and Ms. Magazine. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Split This Rock and on the Board of Directors for SisterSong. She is also actively engaged in the movement for Black Lives and the Anti-Police Terror Project in Oakland, CA.