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

burlap

august silk

 

not seer sucker

straw hat

rain bonnet

could protect her

 

not ice pick

knife

machete

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


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


20


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

Lauren

Sue Altman

The Mom Egg

Home    About    Current Issue     Back Issues    VOX MOM   Events    Links    Shop/Donate    Submit    Contact