Sons Borne

I know that men are not trained to be gentle
You take pride in your rough hands- that you work hard
That your mother doesn’t have to work anymore.

But you don’t listen when she tells you how lonely she feels
Behind her white picket fences
Spending her days trapped on the porch swing you built

She doesn’t want to exist solely for you–
Not if you won’t sit beside her every day.
Her love has long died and she is still here
For you.
Waiting for your okay to fade into the black of the night
To rebuild her own world
But all you can hear is that she’s bored-that her life is boring.

Have you ever sat with your grandmother-let her spill to you the great scandals of her life?Your grandfather had to climb Mt. Olympus to get her attention-
She used to smoke in public and wear fitted pants and she never got her nails done
And what a sight she was to behold- your mother’s mother-
You,  her legacy.

Sometimes you brag about paying your sisters rent
Being the man she can rely on- being strong
But she won’t admit her belly’s growing until you ask her directly
Won’t volunteer the delicate nature of her heart’s desire- the fragile situation she’s gotten herself in-loving a man too much like fire
Being burned.
Don’t let shame or anger darken your face when at last she must confess- she’s moving back home,  dropping out of school,  having a baby boy.

Men are not trained to be gentle,  my love
But that is no excuse.
The world does not belong to you- you are not the God around whom we must revolve.
Do not assume that it is only you- working,  stressing,  praying,  overcoming.
It was borne in your bones- inherited like the color of your eyes,  the texture of your hair.
You must learn to give credit where it is due.
There is no one who can make themselves.



When you were little you sat on the toilet in the good bathroom
And mom braided your hair.
It’s weird,  being black of a white mother
Like being raised by a tiger rather than a lioness
And as many times as it frustrated you
That day,  when you were late because Mom drew criss-crossed braids across your scalp
Reinforced your identity as best she could.
And that boy,  that day,  he told you you had the best hair in the whole school.

Mango skin

The smell in the kitchen: plantains caramelizing in the pan.

Whispers of sugary starch browning in coconut oil

This is an experience that,  growing up,  you could only share with the people in your home.

The sweetest sugar cane water filling your mouth in the summertime.

The drip of mango juice down your face.

You learn to keep those flavors right at the tip of your tongue.

Daddy taught you to eat the skin

And you take life that way-bitter with the juice.