She wasn’t easy, is a thing we say

about someone we love. My father

says this about his mother. Grandmother’s

words could cut you from the far side

of a room, well into her last years.

The expressions on her face were widely

reported. It wasn’t necessarily the content

of the opinion, although, it was sometimes,

but how it was packaged and delivered

to your door. One might say she had a flair

for language, if it was a Trini ole-talking.

Which is why I had little choice but to laugh,

one of the last times I saw her,

lustrous as velvet in her dark brown flesh,

recalling me, under the glare of early dementia,

as a lovely little darkie, in a more fragile

voice than the one bellowing into my girlhood,

Fatty-Fatty-Boom-Boom. Her smile hanging

off the long vowel, like a cat’s tail, upturned

to the moon. You see; it’s a miracle I still love

rhyme, the coincidence of language and time.

Copyright © 2022 by Omotara James. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 10, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.