The Bluest Eye

Originally posted on Whisper and the Roar and Brave and Reckless. Written for feminist book title prompt: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

In the bluest eye,
I thought I’d found
Home.
My heart’s desire,
As Judy, in the movie,
Once said.
Now, the bluest eye
Holds no warming flame
Of home.
It turns a mirror
Up to me and shows
The fool that I have been
For selling pieces of myself—
The plates, the cutlery,
The sheets, the towels,
The quilts and bedspreads,
The leavings of a life.
The leavings of a house.
The leavings of myself—
Without a proper winnowing,
And sold it all at Garage Sale prices.
In return, I thought I’d gained
What I’d always wanted.
But leave emptied
Of all my leavings
In the bluest eye.

Morning Mirror

As a woman of a certain age, use the magnifying mirror
To coat your lashes with mascara
See the eyes of your mother looking back at you
Or the eyes of the girl you never were
Watch as your lips take an unintended twist into a line like your mother’s
As she said romantic visions were, after all, just so much fiction
A momentary indulgence like rich chocolate
So much better left untasted.

Better to stay with the concession of sacrifice in the everyday:
Don’t fill your head with fancy highfalutin ideas,
Don’t need an education to be a waitress,
Get used to doing what you have to do.
Good sense for the day to day
Is not found in the books you like to read.

Her voice has long been white noise.
Her wise counsel dripped pearls of beer.

It’s amusing.
Comical, really, how this happens:
How the face in the morning mirror becomes
Your mother’s staring back.

RATS INFEST

Beware us rats,
You know,
We may have been complacent
With the history of 44.
But now we will rise
With the hate spewing from 45.

We have scurried in fear
Of what this hate might inspire.
But no more.
Rats could feast on the hearts of slumlords.
Rats could floss with the sinew of fearmongers.
But we will not.
Rats have a better way to fight.

Remember, we rats are brave
Because we know the true
Meaning of red, white, and blue.
We’ve shown our bravery before,
Remember your history.
We will brave the dogs.
We will brave the hoses.
We will brave the guns.
And we know
you will send haters
in the dark to kill us too,
But we will survive to outlast you.

You see,
Rats will
Rally
Against
Tyranny.

Two Trees

In the woods
Two trees stand
Equally rooted
Firmly in the ground.

Yet as if deciding
It a curse of solitude
To try and touch a Sky
Who never reached back,
One turned
To touch the other,
Leaning its trunk
Against its forest mate’s.

And so, we found them,
Standing as lovers,
One resting upon the other,
Limbs entwined in embrace.

We turned.
Walked down the trail,
leaning toward each other,
our hands touching.

In the Songs of Birds

When I was three,
My mother taught me to read,
And words
Became playthings and playmates
As I sat in the back of the restaurant
Watching her work her dream to death.

Later, as I grew,
Family losses piled, heaped
Weighty upon the shoulders of a nine-year-old.
Words became
Escape, shelter, survival,
A path out of destruction.

And so, words stayed
For more years than I’d care to say.

But now here,
Waking mornings,
Hearing birdsong,
Or in early evening,
The warm sun blanketing
My skin as I fill the birdfeeders,
I hear words in the songs of birds.
Silly though it may seem,
The cardinals have much to say,
“It’s cheaper here. It’s cheaper here.”
To “Pretty, pretty, pretty.”
The mockingbirds chatter away
Announcements of “She’s here, she’s here, she’s here.”
And I’m not sure which bird continually asks,
“Wanna see, wanna see, wanna see a receipt?”
All the while, the Blue Jays squawk away,
Warning all the others,
“Stay away! Stay away!”
Then in the chittering of the squirrels,
I hear the demand,
“Where’s the food? Where’s the food?
You let the food run out! How dare you?”
As they scurry away,
Pretending, at least, to be afraid of me.

Among all the noise and chatter
All the words of birds and squirrels
One word, never felt before now,
I feel move within my chest,
Peace.

The Mixed

Too dark
Too light
Too in between
Too bright
Too rosy
Too peach–

Just too much
Or not enough at all.
This has always been my plight.

I am African-American
But not black enough .
I am Native American
But not red enough.
I am Latina
But not brown enough.

Just mixed enough for most
To assume whiteness of me,
Sparking comments about a whitey master
in the woodpile of my ancestors.

In this ocean of the mixed
There’s affinity
But no belonging
As I reach for a new shade of blush
That is just close enough.

The Prodigal

Motherhood erased
The caesarean scar, the only trace,
A testament to what once was,
It holds a degree of lingering numbness
After these twenty years:
Nerves that cannot reconnect
To a self without motherhood.
Yes, a touch of numbness
As the child with her mother’s face
Turns away, rejecting the truth teller,
Rejecting the baptism of love, of name, of tears.

Let the child walk away.
Perhaps in losing her way,
She will find the path back,
A way to recognize being found
In the reflection of her own face.