You cannot see the Mothership in space,
It and She being made of the same thing.

All our mothers hover there in the ceaseless
blue-black, watching it ripple and dim

to the prized pale blue in which we spin—
we who are Black, and you, too. Our mothers

know each other there, fully and finally.
They see what some here see and call anomaly:

the way the sight of me might set off
a shiver in another mother’s son: a deadly

silent digging in: a stolid refusal to budge:
the viral urge to stake out what on solid ground

is Authority, and sometimes also Territory.
Our mothers, knowing better, call it Folly.

“Mothership” originally appeared in World Literature Today, Spring 2021. Copyright © 2021 by Tracy K. Smith. Used with permission of the poet.