Sunday, May 8, 2016

Poem in My Late Grandmother’s Distorted Voice on This Mother’s Day


Granddaughter who has thickened the line of my blood,
why are you so dissatisfied,
so restless?
You climb onto strange machines today and pound with your thighs
until you are choking from breathlessness and tears clogged up in your throat.
You say it is to build strength,
but you receive no flowers on this day
You have never received flowers on this day
Did your mother not raise you in a land of kings?
Do you not speak that unfamiliar tongue of recognition?
Did she not do better than I?
I who abandoned her because I could not protect her
as the man I vowed to bear a life with turned to other women
in a place where women are not safe.
Are you not a queen now,
in a time and place where a woman can make enough on her own to eat and live like royalty?
Isn’t that enough to suite you?
Why does it strike your gut when the man whose child you have bore,
and continue to love, does not acknowledge the pain of that love on this day,
does not speak with more tenderness in his voice?
Are you not a queen in your own right?
Why do you wait in the dark corner of your heart
for letters
for invitations 
for recognition
for warmth from now distant acquantances?
Have I not taught you that the word of God
is the best company,
the most accurate instrument for the measure of your worth?
Why do you torture yourself with the grief of
unfinished poems, unwritten characters, wandering paragraphs
that weigh down your bones?
Are you showing up for the world?
Are you showing up to yourself?
Are you showing up for the child who you are afraid the world will steal?
Have you forgotten to show up for God?
Why do you let them prescribe to you how your own breath should be spent?
How is it that life escapes you so quickly?
Days turning into short moments
Months gone in days
Didn’t my breasts and forehead sweat in the kitchens in a homeland where women were not sacred?
Didn’t I pay a penance in advance for you?
Didn’t your mother’s hands and back writhe and ache in the factories of this new land of kings?
Didn’t she pay a penance in advance for you?
Didn’t her generation take a lifetime of slowly shattering bones, reluctantly hardening hearts, and defiantly waning minds to teach you that women could become queens?
Didn’t they pay a penance in advance for you?
Are you letting those others dictate the authenticity of your language with narratives written by our tyrants?
Are you letting them quantify the capacity of your heart with the duty of carrying a load of two hundred heavy and tormented hearts each year,
at the expense of your own child’s slowly tearing and taming heart?
Are you letting them measure the accuracy of your mothering instinct with instruments used to weigh the cost of warping vegetables?
Are you believing them?
Has the heartbreak of many generations of women not been enough of a price to pay for your seat at the table of peace of mind, of uncompromising and unquestionable love?
Why are you feeling so defeated?
Like a rusted empty gourd
Waiting for rice to fall from the sky
You turn away when I say
read the word of God
Why do you turn away?
Have the passages I etched in every corner of my body decayed with my flesh?
Can you hear me?
Why is my voice speaking in this distorted tongue inside of your mind?
Is this the tongue of today’s kings?
Have you not yet learned that the word of God is timeless?
Have you forgotten who I was?