Your mother carried love like contraband –
bundled in butcher paper, standing at bus corners,
she offered you a glimpse of what could be had for a price.
No one knows how you do
bitter cold paper thin skin
blood like water sugar and grits
You looked the most like your father.
It’s no wonder he loved you least.
It’s hard to make eyes at someone you hate.
Insensate and wasting away, the nurses
tied you to the bed when you gouged
at their faces like a manic sculptor
possessed with scraping away excess.
You begged me for release
asked me to make different mistakes.
After you recovered, we pretended
I never heard you – as natural as breathing.
You could hear the slaps through the walls—
couldn’t take the songs of the babies crying,
their mother crying, the memory of your mother
crying, how it felt when you were crying.
After long nights of gathering your strength
you walked up the stairs and demanded
the neighbors stop fighting.
He cut his eyes but dropped his fist.
You said, if I wasn’t sick, I’d beat your ass.
In the store, your grandchildren get lost in
name brands and designer shoes while you sit
praying for strength, writing checks to pay for the past.
Angelique Zobitz's most recent publishing credits include: Sugar House Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry's Poet Resist Series, Poets Reading the News, So to Speak: a feminist journal of language + art, SWWIM, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Rise Up Review. Additional work is forthcoming in Psaltery & Lyre and others. (2019)