for Mama Jan
She kisses my cheeks
her brown daughter / my white godmother
her stories gesture like hands
pushing off a man who threw her on the bed
where blood breaks the bed by an
uninvited guest kissing too hard
while her long ponytail is pulled way back
to the bend and crack of her back backward
knocking sense into her to leave him.
My father her father could’ve been Our Father –
these men we trusted with our laughter and toes.
Her time in Vietnam trumpeted the hour
when I would’ve been born on a Pacific island
a thousand miles away.
Her eyes well up when she recalls Bobby Kennedy’s death
and the whole world reels in that moment all over again.
How we met? you ask. Good question.
We shared stories of our babies who never were
and somewhere along the way it seemed
we had known each other fifty reincarnations ago.
There is no magical wand she waves
to procure glass slippers.
Her favorite flowers are calla lilies
gracing the bough of her arm like a beauty queen
while a whole tub of calla lilies as her garden
conjures her mother’s wedding bouquet.
In the end we are favorites to our fathers
while we relentlessly spend our lives trying to pull our mothers
from the baseboards where they wanted so much
for their daughters to forever reach and drive the stars.