Poem 22 of 30

I remember my mama at 32.

She is wearing a birthday party hat

And holding up three fingers on the right and two on the left.

My mama

Knows grace

And nonchalant coolness

And beauty

In five years, I too will know these secrets.

© 2018 by Miya Upshur Williams

Poem 21 of 30

Your name


Is a spell


In my mouth


Stretching me


Open open open

© 2018 by Miya Upshur Williams

Poem 20 of 30

Oh how you decide on the case by case basis which children are children and which are not.

Oh how I wish you were not rewarded for being on the wrong side of history.

Oh how one day you will see

Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.*

© 2018 by Miya Upshur Williams

As spoken by Fannie Lou Hamer*

Poem 19 of 30

Honey flow season is upon us.

Dandelions bob their yellow heads in the breeze.

The blackbirds chitter and click their petty songs.

Plant sex is just killing your eyes and throat as you note:

She cares for you no longer

And has made space to mourn other things.

This is clear as you count the things successfully returned from their deaths and she is not among them.

© 2018 by Miya Upshur Williams

Poem 18 of 30

There is

No room

For me

To be tired of visiting you.

The slow release and crawl of each door forbids escape.

Father I cannot abduct you.

Uncle I cannot purchase your freedom.

The drive is always long.

(Never as long as the years.)

Sometimes there is a glass that divides us.

Sometimes your wrists are tethered to your waist.

Sometimes a corrections officer is petty and will deny me a visit.

Urban men caged in rural places.

Young turned old under

“You can only piss at this time.

And eat this thing.

And walk this way.”

I know that I must prepare you for the undaughter I have become in your absence.

I know that each visit lends you a piece of myself.

And I get pieces of you too.


© 2018 by Miya Upshur Williams

Poem 17 of 30

Wait for me in

The wave of the dogwood

The smoothness of a worn step

Your mama’s sigh

The salt on your upper lip

The nod of a lover’s understanding

The brushing of hands between friends

A forehead kiss

Earned interest

The skitter of a house centipede

The gratitude of a poem made

The roundness of your sister’s working womb

All the small things that alter your universe.

© 2018 by Miya Upshur Williams

Poem 16 of 30

Shoulders heavy

Eye sensitive to light

Jaw loose

Neck has given up

Body bent

Mind slow and foggy

To think sleep was once something to be fought.

Never again.

© 2018 by Miya Upshur Williams

Poem 16 of 30

The book eaters get stuck in the bath tub.

Nocturnal insects they say.

Two eyed prehistoric cousins they seem.

Though they eat knowledge they do not learn how to free themselves from the white curved walls.

They like humans can only walk on horizontal planes.

An unfilled notebook page will do. Scoop them up or they drown just as quick as they get stuck.

Once freed, their quick soft bodies wiggle to shelter. Glimmering fish out of water.

© 2018 by Miya Upshur Williams

Poem 15 of 30

You run your tongue across my teeth while tugging the hair between my legs.

Your moans vibrate the inside of my mouth as I pull your hips



Towards me.

In this moment there is no talk of the hard things spoken earlier.

Or the ways your face folded itself into disappointment and anger.

Here in sex

I do not hide my crying.

Here in sex

Your generosity is limitless.

I like me.

You like me.

And the gift of each other

This way

Is all that matters.

© 2018 by Miya Upshur Williams

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