Essence London

“Because Your Mama Ain’t”

no dishwasher, no garbage man,
no mildew-out-the-grout scrubber,
gnats fester in your house.

You are not old enough to make your
hardwood floors shine
with your knees bent like a civilian man
afraid to bleed

so gnats buzz—or do whatever they do.
One night soon, too many of those
gnats will have the nerve
to find your mama’s neck, and she will rage.

For fifteen minutes smacking
with her hands—not a swatter—
the walls and the counters
and all the lights.

You will stand
one hand connected
to her thigh
and the other in air,

living as her mimic,
living as a tattered flag
flapping still
under a yellow sky.

You will learn quick
your desire to be a pilot,
your desire to fly, to pulse,
to crash, to burn.

And together you will
rhythm around the kitchen.
A plume of beautiful
black smoke trailing

the backs of your hands.
You and only you
will overturn
your palms, will not feel

the smile lurk across your face
fixing for a leg, a wing,
or damaged smudge to thump
down into your grave
of a home.



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