Ars Poetica

A walk       through a field     carrying               my mother’s wounds
The glorious                   gap                in my grandmother’s
teeth         The iron       swallowing
   the wrinkles        from my sister’s dress      My stubborn
         brothers    throw their heads back          in laughter
I marvel              the harvest                          of their uncombed
kinks     A phantom of a father                         the tremor of his
voice   My mother   silent exorcist    on a good day
The roaches praising                             the empty of the night
The oven open      it’s yawn devours    the brittle cold
Winter unyielding                    it wills             to break
My grandmother and her children   squatters in an    empty
brownstone      The passing down    of how to thaw   the absence
of money          We do not count   The lessons of       growing
up                    without
My great-aunt remembers            her mother                a master of
bearing joy      While cleaning others’ homes     how ample humility
                   runs in the caretaker
When she is forced     to forget everything        I watch her in a
facility    The quiet blink of her eyes                 a drowning past
         she’s unable to tell me                             When she dies
I visit her home     the land     expands              a restless     root
She is buried      next to her husband
Who is buried     next to her daughter
Who is buried     next to her son
Who is not buried  next to his nephew      who dies
Many years later                 in utter silence          a memory
revives     an ancestor                                             Who unearths
          itself to marvel      the vast            and fertile    infinite

From Nocturne in Joy (Sundress Publications, 2023) by Tatiana Johnson-Boria. Copyright © 2023 by Tatiana Johnson-Boria. Used with the permission of the publisher.