“How many more minutes?”
I asked, as I snaked between desks and checked their progress.
I laughed and split the difference.
A voice from the back of the classroom beckoned with the absolute
urgency only a teenager could muster.
“What did you name your baby?”
I stumbled in the darkness of my thoughts,
tripped over swollen memories
hastily packed away
wedged between an urn and a copy of The Giving Tree.
I snuggled the tiny corpse,
tried to transfer heat,
tried to animate her ten fingers and ten toes.
I cataloged a list of names, a story of honors,
long and serious
dedicated to a hero lost at sea.
I thought about names settled at the bottom of the Atlantic
pronunciations muddled in the abyss
convinced the golden triangle changed the climate.
Carlota’s ghost avenged the middle passage
flooded the land with epitaphs.
Dark capable macheted hands
convinced trees to flower prematurely.
My own insurrection was stilled
and I lay emptied on the shore,
dry cracked lips whispered a name across the diaspora.
I recognized the sincerity and swallowed a bitterly sharp retort.
“I named her Solidly, like a meteoroid never to make impact,
like a note from Coltrane’s saxophone.”
Erica Bryant was born and raised in Southern, California. She attended the University of California, Irvine as well as Mills College and now teaches 11th and 12th grade English in Oakland, California.
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September 6, 2015 at 6:50 am
A poem that starts with a innocent question in a classroom and ends with a answer
not to that question, but to another one of profound personal loss. Bryant takes us on an extended journey with her words and we are left with the powerful image of her daughter, a meteoroid never meant to make impact. This is sheer grace.
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