Love. Hate. Death. Birth. These are the ideas I explore in this poem. But also, motherhood, truth, and the words we use.
Even though “I can’t breathe” are the words we are seeing everywhere, I can’t help but keep coming back to George Floyd’s last word: “Mama.”
Even as I write this, this word keeps bring me back to who we are as humans. Who I am, as a mother. Who we are, as children.
Each of us. Every single one.
And so, as I started writing this poem, as impossible and difficult as it seemed, I tried to put myself in that place: crying out for “mama.”
And I couldn’t. As the first lines state: “I don’t know what death is.”
But I know about birth. I know what it’s like to treasure a life so much that I put it almost before my own.
And I asked: What if death felt like birth…?
LOVE IN EMBRACE
Why Mama? I don’t know
what death is. But birth
is the womb of the ocean
breathing over the lands.
We were all abandoned
by a mother who could not
shelter us forever in her
arms. Her children grew,
butterflies in her stomach,
somersaulting to sounds of jazz
played on the piano. Pictures
showed them white on a black screen.
For a summer, there was nothing
but the overwhelm of trying
to prepare for a better life than she had.
How could she share what she couldn’t
see? The more time she spent on this path
the harder to focus when she looked up.
Lean in too far and she would not be
rescued from her own imbalance.
There would be no more vacation.
Days would no longer be light and breezy.
And so, with a sigh she released us
and put her palm to our backs.
In this singular calm
she kissed our head like a postmark.
“Come back to me. I will listen for you.
You will know it is me by the heat of my blood.
And I will come like a blaze
against your tormentor. And I will paint
the sky and the streets ebony.”
Your name will be Truth.