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This is a “Poem of the Day” feature piece

“How simple a thing it seems to me that to know ourselves as we are, we must know our mothers’ names.” Alice Walker

Before earth let herself be known as my home, My mother’s arms were there To wield me closer to the thrum of her heart And make me very much a part of her humming, Her tearful moments, and joyful lifetimes She was first step and first laugh— My maker and shaker, Reaching both hands out behind her To ensure I could take the leaps and bounds She could never hope to reach If nothing becomes of this path This battered, worn terrain I’ve seen her walk only the last twenty-two miles of It will merge seamlessly into my own Her arms will become a bridge A legacy of songs sung, beads powdered… Praying to our ancestors For my protection This path will be my talisman My shrine to identity Forged by lineages By roots so deeply entrenched in the earth They become inseparable from the ground On which I walk

Before these words became things of expression, Intense modes of being, They were our toy things Trinkets that we passed back and forth On slips of paper On slippery tongues On typewriter, then computer screen And she was the one Who planted voice within my chest Watering me with her ways of being Her earthly walk Her plump waist, and need to please Her undying devotion to others Despite the dearth of devotion to her Compassion epitomized itself In the wrinkles of her palms, the twitch of her lips The freckled pink flesh of her face I cannot forget words, As I would just as soon forget my mother Forget her things, her trinkets, her legacy In a world increasingly demanding That she leaves me with worldly things My mother gifts me myself and the power to shape her

Before death can claim me And make peace of this shattering world, Or I prematurely claim it, My mother will wrap me in her embrace— Her skin heavy with the scent of begonias— And rock me until my heartbeat matches hers Until my breath is steady, and My body calm She was first breath and first sight Filling my lungs when I could rely on none but her Clutching my heart and squeezing life Into me She will cradle me once more Revive me when it seems impossible Touching the part of me That is so much like her, It needs her to be alive To move on To live and be free

© Ama Akoto (2018)

Artwork by: Sher Nasser

#alicewalker #blackwomen #mother

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