The Black Woman’s Tears Swap Meet Is Open Every Day
some black women are my friends & their tears seem the hems
of blue dresses. I ball un-ball
my pocketed palms
& think on stockings, bells.
among my students sometimes number black women—
I wish their tears were rungs; such desire may too be grease, tho.
my mother’s youngest sister’s torn calendar tears,
Mondays, Marches, 29ths, ’91s & ’83s
till wicker bins choke, shredder hacks.
a couple of tears, middle sister pinches at her eye,
a black woman’s spyglass. she peers
through the wide between her &.
my older cousins, black women, their tears are:
(a) fresh batteries in broken clocks
(b) ruined coin souvenirs
(c) wheatbread heels jim crowed in fridges
(d) what pitted the yellow linoleum thus
the black mother of the black woman who married me,
her tears’re sunk ships:
coral polyps load the lode & awful hopeful at it.
...!!!] then I’m at last quiet.
my daughter, black girl, rattles,
at me, her scabbard of tears.
my younger cousins, black women, their tears are:
(a) pill bottles
(b) in pill bottles
(c) lids you press down, then turn to loose
(d) anything bottled & near bathroom mirrors
likely my father’s oldest sister, black woman,
kept her tears where they’d pass for shotgun:
slant shade the jamb threw as simmering mask.
my father’s other sister, her tears stop his mouth,
or they’re wood doves, cote’d in his chestnut mind?
grandmother, my black father’s mother? gone.
her tears were empty chairs: pine
white bowl though the rice there was tears of my great aunt,
these days, my grandmother, black woman who mothered my mother,
mislays her tears—she always finds them in the,
finds them in,
the black woman who married me,
her tears inside her out like black church stockings / runs.
& my black mother dead.
Copyright © 2016 by Douglas Kearney. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 25, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.