Copyright 2010 The Mom Egg. All rights reserved.

Cheryl Boyce Taylor

Bruised Ocean


not air

not breath

not the open mouth of sea


not mud cloth


august silk


not seer sucker

straw hat

rain bonnet

could protect her


not ice pick



blade or barbed wire


not molasses

vat 19

not cry, not kiss

could save her


not first pair of pumps

bales of ribbon tied to dress

not red winter coat teal blue scarf

not first snow


not mauby, wormgrass tea

not mother's laugh

not her fingers braiding hair

could recover that year


nineteen sixty five

plane lifted over heaven

sorrow creased at the lips


look mother, here mother

here is that girl

heart neatly folded

like you taught her


here is the heart

creased and stitched

flat ironed brown

all edges trimmed


look mother

see the heart sewn shut

here it is

saved it for you


look mother, look

a bruised ocean


Kathryn M. Fazio


Sorrow wears a mother's hat.

Whether the war's internal or in Iraq,

She knows when her udder eyes are full,

And bleeds even in menopause.

Radhiyah Ayobami


When I was 20

Me and my best friend Ama worked at Popeye’s

And after our shift was over

We’d change our striped shirts, wash our faces

And walk out into the life of the city

We’d stop and watch the mimes break-dancing to Michael Jackson

On old tape recorders

And never leave a quarter in the top hat

We’d walk by Toys R’Us

And watch the white people buy bags of toys for their kids

At a quarter to midnight

We’d walk down Times Square

And drink merlot out of a paper bag

And sometimes guys called out to us

And sometimes they didn’t

And sometimes we answered

And sometimes we didn’t

And one time a policeman

Wrote us a ticket for drinking on the street

But tore it up when Ama gave him her phone number

And he didn’t call and we waited for warrants

But they never came.

When I was 20

Me and Ama stole pregnancy tests out of Kmart

And peed on them in McDonald’s bathrooms

And they were negative and negative until they were positive

And we started the rounds of shelters and clinics and social service offices

And our boyfriends who were boys but not our friends went their way and left us to be mothers

And we raised the children, four sons between us, with a woman’s hand.

When I was 20

I dreamed of water

I asked my mother to sign for me

To go to college in Hawaii

And she would not sign

And I asked her to sign loans for me

And she would not sign

And my grandmother who had lived the past 50 years in New York

Said it was good

That I did not need to be away from family

And the days and nights of my summer were filled with dark meat, white meat, spicy or mild, fries, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, extra biscuits

And I brought home free food and the family was pleased

And on Sunday afternoons when it was so hot that the air in the store did not move, we cracked open the door with a plastic dustpan, ate ice from the cooler, played the radio loud and sang

And customers drifted in and we ignored them and the manager made us scrub the walls with a dirty sponge and when he left we ate biscuits straight from the oven and told the customers we were out of food

When I was 20

I argued with my mother and Ama argued with her mother and we spent days walking up and down the same avenues with nowhere else to go, and we ran into a girl from high school that had graduated with a scholarship to Fordham College, and she was pregnant for the second time and lived in the projects with her boyfriend in Far Rockaway

And everybody had babies. Ama had babies and Tamika had babies and the dopey girl down the street whose hair barrette I once broke in a fight had babies all there was- babies and drop-in men and living at home with your mother until you went down to the EAU in the Bronx with your babies and your bags and applied for cheap housing and bounced from Tier 1 to Tier 2 shelters to your own place, and then you got a man and had more babies and got a stupid ass job somewhere or had some kind of hustle or did daycare from the house on the down low if the landlord was cool and then all of a sudden you were thirty and loud, a smoker with a lazy man and too many kids, somebody who thought Atlantic City was a trip and Virginia Beach was a vacation, but shit- who ever told you there was anything else anyway

When I was 20

I did not know I would

move so much

get rid of my weave

shave my head

give up cheese

was a polygamist

lay down with a man who loved me

would move to another country and live there

ever really write

be mother to many children

see spirits

had black woman African magic

When I was 20

I did not know

I would become so fearless

it was a wonder.

The Mom Egg 2007 Selections


Sue Altman

The Mom Egg

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