I call them tiger stripes,
a badge of honor.
Their tendrils reach around my waist,
across my back,
down my hips,
and over my belly, like vines.
Each line reminds me of
the life I once carried within me.
Each stria reminds me
of every meal I could not hold down,
and every kick and punch
my ribs and bladder endured.
The single dark stripe
that trails down the center of my belly
reminds of the times I wondered when labor would begin.
The ripples that remain, like accordion folds in my flesh,
remind me of the day you finally arrived.
I look at these stretch marks
and recall faithfully massaging cocoa butter into my belly,
attempting to erase any visible evidence of the experience.
But the flesh insists upon memorializing the event.
I’m no longer ashamed of these scars.
I’m reminded that not every woman has been blessed to receive them.
Maturity has taught me how to wear these welts
like a string of diamonds around my waist.