“Why Don’t You Parent a Little?”

The story is that there is so much loss,

so much waste in a woman who does not make

a body with her body. Such sunk potential

in a sex that does not produce.

The story is that we have progressed.

The story is that the black woman is safe.

The story is that the black woman is safe

if she protects her king.

The king is dead.


Copyright © 2021 by Maya Marshall. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 22, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

I wrote this poem in response to a question that vexes me. I wanted a simple premise and a level tone lest I sound hysterical. It was important to me to link the interrogation of the individual to the context of the larger world—the stories, true or untrue, that we tell—so I kept the ‘I’ out and ended with a phrase that spans continents and eras, one that points to the cyclical trap of the generations.”
Maya Marshall