when I dropped my 12-year-old off at her first
homecoming dance, I tried not to look
 
her newly-developed breasts, all surprise and alert
in their uncertainty. I tried not to imagine her
 
mashed between a young man's curiousness
and the gym's sweaty wall. I tried not picture
 
her grinding off beat/on time to the rhythm
of a dark manchild; the one who whispered
 
“you are the most beautiful girl in brooklyn”
his swag so sincere, she'd easily mistaken him for a god.

More by Mahogany L. Browne

Ego-Tripp(ed)

& then the poet became G  D/like
just’a rolling his tongue everywhere
like G O D must’ve
when the earth got birth(ed) & even

           after the fertile soil turned
over on herself/  & the sky--a mix

between "blue&what you looking @?"

(that was sometime afta the 5th day)

when the crumbling grit shook her grin

loose    crossed each arm & said

     “Man? Nah…we good”

the blk(est) night

the blk(est) night
be a blk girl

she think

her hair
too good
    & her waist
    too small
        & her fit
        too cute
            & her jeans
            too flyy

& her mama ain't nothing
like her
& the bitches
on the corner
ain't nothing like her
& can't nobody sweat her style      
                                 but jesus

Redbone Dances

If you ain’t never watched your parents kiss 
             ain’t neva have them teach you 
‘bout the way lips will       to bend & curve 
against a lover’s affirmation 

If you ain’t never watched the knowing nod 
of sweethearts worn away & soft 
as a speaker box’s blown out hiss 

If you ain’t witnessed the glue 
that connected your mother & father 
—how they fused their single selves 
into the blunt fist of parents 

If you ain’t sure there was a time when 
their eyes held each other like a nexus
breaking the lock to dip dark marbles 
into certain corners of a shot glass 

If you ain’t never known a Saturday night 
slick with shiny promises & clouds 
wrapped wet in a Pendegrass croon 

If you ain’t been taught how 
a man hold you close      so close 
…it look like a crawl 

If you ain’t had the memory 
of your mother & father sliding 
hip to hip         Their feet whisper 
a slow shuffle & shift       Her hand 
on his neck grip the shoulder of 
a man that will pass his daughters 
bad tempers       & hands like bowls

If you ain’t watched a man 
lean into a woman His eyes 
a boat sliding across bronze 
             His hands 
pillared in her auburn hair       Her 
throat              holds     the urge 

to hear how her voice sounds against 
the wind of him 

If your skin can’t fathom the heat 
of something as necessary as this… 

Then you can’t know the hurricane 
of two bodies    how    the bodies
can create the prospect of a sunrise
how that sunrise got a name 
             it sound like: a blues song; 
a woman’s       heart breaking; 
From the record player skipping 
             the sky             almost 

blue 

Related Poems

Frequently Asked Questions: #9

Don’t you think you should have another child?

This girl I have is hardtack and dried lime
           and reminds me, every groggy morning,
what a miracle it must have been
           when outfitters learned to stock ship holds
with that one long lasting fruit. How the sailors’ tongues,
           landing on its bitter brilliance, must have cursed
the curse of joy, as I did that morning the burst
           of water brought my sweet girl into our lives.

But, already, she hates me sometimes.
           Like I have sometimes hated my mother and she
must have sometimes hated her own.

After weeks at sea, the limes would desiccate and the meal
           fill with worms. They would have eaten
anyway, the sailors, but taken no pleasure from anything.
           Or taken no pleasure from anything but
the fact of their sustained lives. Which is to say it is all
           I can do, most days, not to swallow
her up and curse her maker, I swear. Like I have not
           sworn since the morning she was born.