I was born in the attic / because Mother claimed / brown the more honest name / for beige. They hit her––
after Jean Rhys & Charlotte Brontë
I was born in the attic
because Mother claimed
brown the more honest name
for beige. They hit her —
the doctor, the priest, her
mother. She sat alone
all day, spitting her teeth
out like pomegranate.
There is this large putrid jar
beneath our bed. I came
after she climbed out
too often with the yard man
to lay cane. Now our days
will be out of doors, instead
of inside them; our future will lie
with petals, caterpillars, well-dressed
moss, hypnotic snails, clapping
orange frogs that know to climb
which tree for the ripest alligator
pear. Every ocean has known us,
Mother says, no shore is insignificant.
For every ship, still, the smallest sea
can be too wide. The world sits on the edge
of God’s razor, she says. And every day —
every day — He shaves
His fat face.
“Every Day,” a poem by Robin Coste Lewis. ©2017 Robin Coste Lewis. Used by permission. This poem first appeared in New York Times Magazine in their ongoing A Picture and a Poem series on February 15, 2017.