Featured

Mother

“Yet so many of the stories that I write, that we all write, are my mother’s stories. Only recently did I fully realize this: that through years of listening to my mother’s stories of her life, I have absorbed not only the stories themselves, but something of the manner in which she spoke, something of the urgency that involves the knowledge that her stories- like her life- must be recorded.”   Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens.

After reading this essay, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, I thought of my own mother obviously, and her stories she told me and my siblings. I remember how much it irritated me, since it was the same stories I’ve heard from the womb. But now, as I reflect on the stories that I’ve written, I’m reminded of those times she’d sit with us, and tell us about her life, like we were her recorder, documenting those times that were missed. I can’t help but see my mother staring back at me from my pages.

All my life, I’ve tried not to be like her, my mother. I’ve avoided experiences I believed would lead to one of her tragic endings. How sadly ironic, that the stories I was trying to forget are the stories that I’ve been unconsciously writing, that I can’t ignore because they make up who I am.

Walker also spoke about the lengths her mother took to transform their, shabby, home into something special, unique and warm, and how this act was her mother’s way of expressing herself. It was a manifestation of her mother’s love: planting an ambitious garden. It was, also, a reflection of her mother’s artistic abilities. This has opened my eyes to my own mother’s ambitious gardening.

When I was a kid, I never considered what my mother did in our home as a manifestation of her artistic abilities, mainly because it wasn’t something people celebrated, valued or respected. It was taken for granted, and considered something that women are expected to do. There wasn’t anything special about keeping a home, and raising five children.  Now, as I’m older, I regret that I never recognized and appreciated my mother’s ambitious gardening.

She knew how to make, and keep things beautiful, my mother. Even when she didn’t have the correct tools, she invented her own tools, and her own style which made everything even more special. She had the eye.

I miss her so much. And words can’t bring her back.  Nothing can imagine her back, or how much I miss her, my mother (My Imaginary Margin).  Especially since she can no longer share in my revelations.  Selfish, yes. Even now, when she’s dead.

I can’t remember exactly when I stopped celebrating Christmas, especially since it was such a huge deal for my mother. She’d go the extra mile, staying up all hours of the night on Christmas Eve, redecorating with new curtains and bed sheets.  The smell of freshly painted steps, and polished furniture swelled throughout the house, giving an exciting sense of newness, of home.

And of course the food, the food that was made with my mother’s hands, seasoned with all her love: baked fish, chicken, and stewed pork, macaroni pie, ham, callaloo and beans, and avocado salad; gingerbread, sweet bread, fruit cake, carrot cake, punch de creme (a Caribbean punch made of cream) and sorrel (a Caribbean drink made from the buds of the sorrel plant that grows in the Caribbean) that is boiled with ginger, and then sweetened with sugar, or if you like wine or rum.  Hmm, yum. The cooking was insane.  As a child, the kitchen was a garden of wondrous smells and deliciousness.

Mother is my substance, whose love I suckle upon
absent of thought to what she is.
Mother is my substance, whose skin is young as mine
even as waters sweeping along oceans and rivers
glowing brownish illuminations as the sun.
Mother is my substance whose personality
I mistakenly guise as funny, and foreign to mine

I’ve noticed in fact, the tendencies to hold my head like mother
my rear end suddenly resembles the roundness of her bountiful rump
and I’ve recently discovered a colony of moles on my neck like mother’s.
My laugh has changed as well into her scandalous octaves
which made you join in with joyous glee
I am reminded everyday of her presence and her legacy.
My mother, my substance, my ambivalent substance.

Every Poem is an Existential Crisis

My younger brother has been visiting me in my dreams and it is both relieving and terrifying. I find relief knowing that he is still around but the fear present is a real terror. The experience has left me wondering if the reason he’s showed up is to warn me about something. He died unexpectedly, so did my mother, and they both have a presence in the dreams. My brother’s much more so. I wish I could translate my dreams.

Every Poem is an Existential Crisis

I wish I could translate my dreams from my
dreamscape, then maybe the fear won’t be as
transfix. Where lying still, I hear myself cry out
while in dual state: in the dream and waking
up from it: the terror that leads to worry about
impending doom once you’re aroused. Dreams
are important. They are messages missed
which you reflect on in meditative states.
Dreams are an experience into the other-side
of what you were exposed to in reality. Another
language to learn, another power to discover
and possess. While I know the imminent is
true, that dying is inevitable, I wonder how
much of my dreams are a harbinger of what I
already know but not quite recognized.

Soft

This was a hard one. It took days to realize what I wanted to say, and in the form of a sonnet. I still didn’t follow the rules, but I’m slowly getting there.

Soft

As gentle as an embrace, tender as in the
tenor of a song. Delicate as the eagerness of
blooming flowers. We can reciprocate care
especially in times of extreme social isolation.
We always had it in us to express comfort in
this place where living has made you tough
and reject the gift of closeness. As so much
separates us, there are offerings of solicitude.
As mutual aid is the buoy for our times.
Leveling a compassion we seek. As wanting to
trust while staring back an abyss becomes a
meandering of the past where you can no
longer live. Tomorrow it maybe will be different,
but today I dance with songs of embrace, with all the flowers.

 

Meteorite

To survive these uncertain days
like the times when the earth reigns
and being without shelter from the starkness
of nature and you walked for hours in its cold
downpour wondering when it would stop and
you’ll see the sun again. Like the times the
quiet snow kept collecting into a mountainside
of slush you’d trudge through with cold feet
and hands tethered to a memory/thought
of when it was once warm. When it would be
warm again. I tell myself that these days are
the same as those days of trepidation. And
soon you’d laugh again, you will so loudly
that you weep new lessons on survival.

Strange

As a way of maintaining my mental health during this scary time, I wrote another reaction poem about the virus. I was attempting to write a sonnet but it ended up being free verse. Next time, as I really want to write something outside of my comfort zone.

Strange

Afraid to touch an extended hand
a reach for some sameness, while touch can
be a compassion, a sense for being in a sea of
unknowns. How to navigate through the dark?
How do you survive the sickness from touch
too close to where comfort becomes lost?
You wash your hands so much they peel
new information of an already coarse design

Raccoon Hands

My anxiety is up because of the coronavirus. I’ve been using hand sanitizers more frequently than I usually do, and I wonder about the long-run repercussions. I mean like I’m using it after touching anything. It’s based out of the fear of getting sick and being unable to work, which would mean being incapable of surviving. I’m trying my best to not fall into hysteria, so here’s a poem about it.

Raccoon Hands

Feel for my wallet
pull out my metro card
slide it through
walk in the train
hold the pole
Don’t touch your face
Don’t touch your face
hand sanitizer my hands
running low on sanitizers
must ration until home
little drops on palm, rub hands together
Was that enough? Can’t risk it
more little drops, rub hands together
this is my stop
walk up stairs
don’t touch the railing
even if you need extra support
get to the exist
don’t hold the door
outside, put hands in pockets
walk for a bit
then touch the front door
home, go wash your hands

Cloudburst

This Winter has been so mild and warm. I’m not complaining, but it’s definitely something I’ve felt a way about. On the one hand I like that it is, but then I think about the consequences on an ecosystem scale. It’s very scary that the only time it snowed in NYC it wasn’t even a thing. Anyway, last night, however brief, it was raining kind of hard and I really like the sound of rain, so I wrote this.

Cloudburst
the sound of rain
the sound of a full and good storm
coming down like a long deep laugh
throbbing throughout the whole body
making tears brim from your eyes
like a good long cry, you weep aloud
heaving out the heart’s heaviness
many gasps and sighs like the what
the wind makes wailing through fissures
carrying precipitation – making puddles
of unfiltered wanderings. In the end
dampening these sidewalks with glints