Tamales on Christmas
It is tamale Saturday.
The day the colors of the rainbow break
b r e a d. Today these Brown hands will be coated
In masa and Mama and memory.
A family patterned like
plaid on stripes will go to war with corn
husks and Grandma Lupe's recipe h a n d w r i t i n g.
Today I am not artist. Nor social
media handle. I am not
Black Boy Joy. Nor Brown Boy dead. I am
a b a b y before its first gulp of tap water. The oldest cousin
still hesitant to clink forks at the adult table.
Today we pick up the place
mats Tia and Big Mama and Papa Sisto left
behind. We’ve never been the same since they d i e d.
We grew into something stronger
and weaker at the same time,
most ourselves when colors don’t
m a t c h but meat is tender, and masa has no clumps,
and air is clean like a mind
that has reconciled with its last meal.
Copyright © Christian Robinson. This poem originally appeared in Respect the Mic: Celebrating 20 Years of Poetry from a Chicagoland High School (Penguin, 2022). Used with permission of the author.