Cameron Awkward-Rich: Poet of the Week
Theory of Motion (6), Nocturne
for them all
I’ve tried not to write about these ghosts.
As if this too does not turn a child
to narrative. As if this too does not
demand a kind of work. But boy
after boy after boy after boy after
girl after sweet shadow of a boy—
& have you ever known a body
to not be haunted? Ever known
a black body to not be riddled
We buried my great-grandmother in 2008.
She was 95. She survived so much.
If I have to tell you what I mean, then she’s
not yours to carry. If I have to tell you, well,
here’s a door opening in the poem.
Here’s an exit. Walk through.
My great-grandmother was named Violet.
Violet. She had six sisters, a garden
of black girls. Imagine naming your girl-
child for a flower. Imagine doing this
over & over again. Imagine a flower, how easy
to ruin for want of a little color
to decorate the kitchen. Imagine tearing up
handfuls of blossoms. Imagine pressing them
into a girl’s dark shape, to say this is you.
This is what the world has made of you.
Now imagine she lived
& she lived.
Once, I was a girl
who took a black boy’s name
into her mouth. I don’t know a thing
about bullets, but I sure do know