We Never Stop Talking About Our Mothers

Renee and I, hers—in the urn by her desk 
and mine—alive in an apartment forty minutes 
from here, probably watching a telenovela, frying 
plantains, texting me goodnight. Renee’s mother isn’t
really in the urn. She’s in the blue wall, 
the beach landscape painting, the dog 
barking at the unexpected, the jangle of silver bracelets. 
We are all carrying our mothers, and we are all better 
daughters with the dead. She tells me I am wise, 
and all I can think about are the moments of my unwiseness: driving 
and sipping margaritas from a water bottle, the bruise 
on my arm and taking him back. Her husband 
is away at the family cabin, and she is glad 
for the space. My husband doesn’t exist, and I am 
sad for the space I make my home in. I buy sunflowers 
and goat cheese, throw a dinner party for the ghosts. 
I don’t know Renee’s mother’s name to send a proper invitation.
I don’t know the names of the women in my family 
past my great grandmother. How will I call upon them
when it’s time? Will I call them Mary or Venus 
or Yemaya? I’ve yet to burn the palo santo, the sage. 
I want to leave behind a legacy of light. 
I want to leave someone better. 

Copyright © 2022 by Diannely Antigua. This poem appeared in Narrative Magazine, 2022Used with permission of the author.