Poetry | December 11, 2020



Let me go back to my father

in the body of my mother the day he told her,

Having black children won’t save you when the revolution comes.

Let me do more than laugh,

like she did.


Let me go back to my mother and do more

than roll my eyes when she tells me,

I think deep down, in a past life, I was a black blues singer.


My mother remembers the convent

where she worked after I was born;

the nuns who played with me while she cleaned.


My father remembers the bedroom window

of their first apartment; his tired body

climbing through. It was best,


they agreed, if she signed the lease alone.


Scholars conclude

the myths of violence that surround the black male

body protect the white female body


from harm. I conclude race was not

not a factor in my parent’s attraction.

I am the product of their curiosity, their vengeance, their need.


They rescued each other from stories scripted

onto their bodies. They tasted forbidden and devoured each other



Let me build a house

where their memories diverge.


Let me lick clean

these bones.

If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member at an institution whose library subscribes to Project Muse, you can read this piece and the full archives of the Missouri Review for free. Check this list to see if your library is a Project Muse subscriber.