Brown Girl Creed

I believe in my mother, the mother almighty, 
             mover of heaven and earth, 
             creator of daughters and dinner, 
             all that is always unseen, 
I believe in my mother, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Pulmano, 
             who dreamed an American dream, 
             who suffered barely making ends meet, 
             who suffered giving everything unto everyone, 
             who suffered, died, and was buried; 
             she descended into this American earth, 
             while wailing women recited novena, 
             she ascended into heaven, 
             and is seated somewhere comfortable now, 
             she’s watching the Niners game now, 
             she’s wearing her Jerry Rice jersey, 
             she’s got a Diet Pepsi and a plate of Panda Express, 
             she’s watching reruns of Murder She Wrote and Matlock 
             if the game isn’t going the way she’d like,    
I believe in my mother, in the most sacred of sisterhoods, 
             in kapwa with the kumares, the forgiveness of fear, 
             her transcendence from a tumorous body, 
             her pink jasmines and rose bushes in bloom. Amen.


Copyright © 2021 by Barbara Jane Reyes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 27, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“My mother passed away in November 2020, and I am still grieving. Having to bury her during COVID was one of the worst things; so many people could not come to say their farewells, and all of our funeral rituals had to be dramatically scaled back or conducted over Zoom. In her later years, my mother had become prayerful and quite close to her church community; her pastor offered us comfort while grieving as well. ‘Brown Girl Creed’ is the first poem I've written for her; I continue to write poems for and about her.”
Barbara Jane Reyes