My mother raises rare blooms
and waters them with tea
her birth waters sang like rivers
my mother is now me.
–Lorna Goodison, “I am becoming my mother”
i have a dream of the sun exploding on a dusk dripping horizon, me and my ma careening down a hill towards a beach of gold. her arm swings out to guard me from the blow. brace yourself. for a long time we both have been running away from your own reflections. me, never going home cause this woman is all the things i want to be and all the things i am afraid of becoming. her in her minivan always going going down some street or highway looking for some peace. every kid from east hills to frankstown knows my mother cause she is the best teacher there is; she knows every kid by name and how to make them know they are seen and how to build worlds out of sweet honey in the rock, drums and keyboards in schools[toprisons] where black kids are supposed to be contained before they are taught. my father waxes poetic about meant to be and about how she might as well and about how he wants his family back and they wasting time, getting old and tries to erase all the years he crowded out her voice. they were sixteen when they fell in love at a skating rink and never looked back; forty when the world begin to crumble in ghosts of mothers and liquor bottles. she nods and says mhm and makes excuses for things she’s got to do as if living and being in this world ain’t already a job and half. i am terrified of the wake. it’s been five years since my stepfather died next to her in his sleep; he’d left Nigeria and his parents enough years ago to build a home in this nation and was scraping by so much that he couldn’t afford to go back before the rainy season to see them buried in their graves: heart attack at 46. my mother still wakes up at 3 am and replays that hour till the sun rises. i have seen her love while running these last five years, settle cause the earth is not built to hold us. i am afraid of never falling in love and of losing my love to borders or blood and of all the walls i’ve built protecting me too too well. i go home for another funeral and we hold each other past midnight laughing and crying. i realize i am less afraid of becoming her and more afraid of myself, of holding my love up to the light like i hold my words. i am afraid of the sun exploding on a dusk dripping horizon. i am afraid of her not being there to guard me from the blow.