But My Sister Said All Poets Are Liars…
when we took a walk one day,
me in a woolen sweater, her in a sleeveless cotton top,
someone threw a boulder out an open window
from a Highrise. My sister said
it was a pebble,
but I saw it grow from pebble to rock,
a piece of black coal like the ones the Coal Man
would bring in his truck once a month
to feed our furnace just when we thought
we would freeze to death like orphans,
our fingernails long as Cruella Deville’s,
but icicles like those hanging from eaves.
But wait! That rock grew from coal to stone,
and kept growing, like the big ones
in the Ocoee River, boulders you could use
to cross the river like I saw the Cherokees do,
ghostlike echoes imprinted in air if I stared long enough…
My sister said “Stop! You were too young to remember
The Coal Man, and you were never cold, because I
remember heat; and when did you stand on the edge of any river
and how do you know exactly what tribe crossed where?
How could you create a ghost story from a boulder,
and a coal story from a pebble?
How could you say our parents didn’t provide?
And then she walked away, so she didn’t see the boulder bury me,
Push me through concrete to molten lava until I was on the other side,
where I rested in the graveyard of once-upon-a-time imaginings,
my sister said she couldn’t
close her eyes to see.
I Was Raised to Be Invisible
I was raised to hide
from the Boogeyman,
to not go with strange men
even if they were called “Uncle”;
to walk away from love after the first slap,
the first “Baby I didn’t mean it, but
it was your fault.”
I was raised to be a good daughter,
to not take up too much air,
to do what I was told without talking back,
and so I sat in that barber’s chair for “a facial”,
and I, hungry for perfection, let him
put his hands on my teenage face
covered with perceived imperfections
all distorted in the bathroom mirror.
But I didn’t want his hands to roam down
to my breasts, barely budding.
But I was also raised with Black girl magic,
with the power to leave that chair,
to run from the boogeyman,
to be strong enough to tell,
to raise my voice,