A New Beginning by featured artist Jamila Clarke
I Don’t Need A TV Show to Know What This Looks Like
I grew up a dust bunny princess.
My mother was building castles
out of take-out boxes;
building the 7 wonders on her own,
pyramids out of coats, dresses, shoes—
they have a breath of dust on their skin,
but the tags are still attached.
Some people are born with bones,
small intestines, livers and a larynx.
My mother was born with a zipper scar
climbing up her hip,
heart cluttered as much as her closet;
an accident she’ll never forget and an addiction
she’ll never let go.
There was a risk
my sisters never knew we were living in,
because when you grow up on loads of laundry,
it’s harder to see the truth buried on the floor.
But if a single match
had slipped through her skinny fingers,
our house and our bodies would have fed
the next college bonfire.
She kissed our foreheads into bed
like dousing us in gasoline.
We grew up in a maze,
dodging through hallways and sliding down stairs.
But in a way, I think with all of our lost ways,
we had trained our eyes for an escape
we didn’t have to climb out of.
Instead of choosing to keep us when she had us,
she keeps us when we’re gone.
When we left, she kept parts of us
we didn’t recognize;
collected all my old headbands
like they could take the shape
of the daughter she lost.
We never feared she would be alone
because her hoarding wouldn’t let her.
Long after I’ve forgiven her sickness,
she still asks me to visit.
I try to remember to be the help
she hasn’t asked for.
But when I leave my heart unfastened
for her again, I realize, that she’s unable
to do the same.
She no longer has any room
but will always remain
the worst kind of hollow.