Tuesday Poem


My mother bounced up and down
the night before I was born. Freckled
arms pumping, she prayed with each fall

that the confetti of us would rain down,
fly up, float for a moment, as I would—
a nest, awaited nine months and gone in a blink.

It would dissipate to settle around us
on the playful canvas still rippling,
straining under the weight of us.

We cry at the sight of one another, a part
of one another newly apart from one another.

All the while, woven strands strain.
The small spaces between are windows
we ignore until the woven strands fray,
give way, and all the small windows
become one, through which we fall.

We land years later on a lawn,
its green faded golden
and breath thick with morning
mosquitos and memories.
I, 24. She, 48.

Both of us dig through the roots
to those dry golden stalks, flimsy
and elusive. She looks for her lineage
before her, whose worried jawlines
look like hers, and I for the other half of
mine behind me, taut with absence.
My lineage stolen by ships, then
misunderstandings, miscommunications.
My fingers pierce precious places,

but my mother is milky
comfort, always confusing,
always forgiving,
my search for a blackness
to hide how different
she made me.

When, in all that mulched earth,
our frenzied fingers brush,
we lace them to butterfly and wiggle
their prints together into topsoil
growing sticky with effort and joy.

by Kendal Thomas
from Brooklyn Poets,