The Lose Your Mother Suite VI. “across the surface of my studied speech”
Mess like this sullies everything:
my grandmother will call and say Who’s that white lady
on your answering machine?
She will laugh and I will wonder what’s missing?
(What did I forget? What does it mean
to lose your mother? Am I brilliant yet?)
Pretty-mouthed girl with perfect diction.
How my teachers praised me. Didn’t they love
my lost convention, were they equipped to raise me?
If you lose your mother, tongue,
are you a new beginning? Will the
breaking be for love or will you hate
whatever’s ending? Going back might kill you,
progress is a blacklist. Your voice:
an afterlife, shadow, fist.
Copyright © 2023 by Remica Bingham-Risher. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 17, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.