by Natalie Jarrett
Soon you will speak, the doctor
told me, Relax your throat
as if letting the moon pass through.
Having found an impression
of light on my wall, a moth
centers itself– still and silent,
it sits contemplating stillness
My mother only Facetimes
me in the dark. I’ve grown
accustomed to my mother
in the totality of darkness.
My mother is all shadow-
tongued these days.
An NPR short once reported
that the same vocal mechanism
which granted language use
to humans, also lets us choke
At night, waves continue to carry
the lake forward, bringing forth the
same ancient argument,
and as though duty-bound, relieve
the shore of its form.
Every black person has a relative
that resembles the man on the Song
For my Father album. Even now
he’s sitting by that lake; it’s Sunday,
and he’s all church sweat
and arthritis. He’ll tell you about all
the wars, wagers, and women
of his day, and you’ll listen as he
trails off into the infinity
of his cigar smoke.