Elizabeth Acevedo: Poet of the Week

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My mother calls and sandbag sighs
into another of her lists:
She found Papi shivering inside
a bottle of spiced rum. Again.
My grandparent’s bills are loose napkins
that won’t origami into pretty swans.
My brother won’t drink the milk anymore—
he knows about the medicine.

There is a timer on these calls
but the bread always burns in her irises.
I put the match out on her throat.
When I was little, she never cried
where I could see her;
hung rosaries from her eyelashes instead.

I convinced myself then silence was strength.
I won’t feed from her fingers.
I fold into two walls. Hide from her hands.
Peel my ear when she reminds me
daughters are meant to veil themselves behind the skirts
of their mothers. When are you going to visit?

I don’t tell her this is why I left.

You know, I know…it’s easier to be far from this.
From me.

We both heave wordless.
She whistles softly through her teeth
and I am packed with the air of her.

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