Witness

by Keisha-Gaye Anderson


Like the memory

deepest hidden,

it drives you


The you

you can’t put down

make sleep

smother under

logic


The pilot

light inside

burning away

the shapes and masks

that sell you this story--

a spinning web of deja vus

and absurdities


It presses you to

                                    Witness

funnel every whirlwind

through your mind’s eye

until

from your heart

is wrung

a battle song


But then you see their

hungry mouths

reflections of your mouth

and you bend lower

to hear their

tugging questions

which are also your

questions

even now


So you cradle them

in your mother’s laugh

and pretend to know

the whys

and whens

and hows

sending hem satiated

and giggling into another

concrete yard

hoping for a lifetime

before their

joy swings to recognition

of these boxes

that we twirl in

day by day


You stop only to fuel

this vehicle

and not much else

not hearing these words

that jump up

and float uncomfortably

into your staff meeting

you blame the missed coffee

the crowded train

they squint and smirk for manners

sharpen knives under the table


You push down

those ideas that

kick open your

dreams at night

and ripple through

your day

making you

spill the milk

step over the pampers

say to him, “I’m too tired”


You would never give back

your little stars

because “mommy”

is the sweetest serenade

ever sung by God

and so now

they need you

and so always

you give you


But the thoughts still form

and sit on the

shelves of your consciousness

swinging their feet

and cursing at you

until you remember something

of what you are

outside of what you can imagine


The walls of time close in

but you choose to first

season the fish

scrub the toilets

then restrain yourself behind

“Just a second,”

until it becomes a mantra

for running in place

a blueprint you’re

determined that your little stars

will never use


Your map

a jagged legacy

sewn together

on a 1970’s flight

from palm trees

and anthurium lillies

toward possibilities

followed by latch keys

cold cereal

and warnings

about the body you inhabit

where it can not go

what it should not hope for


But here you are anyway

you checked all the right boxes

and didn’t implode

so now you provide

so that they can paint

and play the steel drums

“A truly modern instrument,”

you boast

between mountains of laundry

and multiplying toys


You want someone to pinch you

and then scold yourself

for being ungrateful

so you just

light a candle

write these words

a facsimile

composed in the dark

a rest stop

in the direction of home

where love need not be rationed

where new stories emanate

and create waves

that shift minds into motion

bring life back to

bodies just breathing

see where it hurts

and understand

why that’s okay

pull down the sky

and create castles

in the rubble

and just BE

in the only way that

truly matters.


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