Published on Academy of American Poets (


When I rose into the cradle
of my mother’s mind, she was but
a girl, fighting her sisters
over a flimsy doll. It’s easy
to forget how noiseless I could be
spying from behind my mother’s eyes
as her mother, bulging with a baby,
a real-life Tiny Tears, eclipsed
the doorway with a moon. We all
fell silent. My mother soothed the torn
rag against her chest and caressed
its stringy hair. Even before the divergence
of girl from woman, woman from mother,
I was there: quiet as a vein, quick
as hot, brimming tears. In the decades
before my birthday, years before
my mother’s first blood, I was already
prized. Hers was a hunger
that mattered, though sometimes
she forgot and I dreamed the dream
of orange trees then startled awake
days or hours later. I could’ve been
almost anyone. Before I was a daughter,
I was a son, honeycomb clenching
the O of my mouth. I was a mother—
my own—nursing a beginning.


Copyright © 2019 by Ama Codjoe. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 2, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Inserting the speaker into this imagined scene felt like looking at myself through a many-mirrored wall that is also, somehow, a window. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what my own desires are made of, and this poem led me away from myself into the desires that made me.”
—Ama Codjoe


Ama Codjoe

Ama Codjoe is the author of Bluest Nude forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in Fall 2022 and Blood of the Air (Northwestern University Press, 2020), winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize.

Date Published: 2019-04-02

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