I put my hand on your forehead, whisper your name,
hope to guide the joystick of your dreams to softer science.
Soon, against my nearness, you will raise a boundary, which,
I’m told, by secondhand self-help books, is necessary.
One day you’ll make your own home with a friend
or lover, and I will not be able to, in one revolution,
seek your heat to know you’re safe, still breathing.
You kick me hard in the hamstring—your foot a brown canoe--
which hurts less than you trying on the chains of manhood.
When I’m sleep-deprived and graceless, I think Go back to where you came from, roll over, try to reenter my dream.
But, the province of my iliac crest is your homeland.
A comet crowning, you raised first flag with a wail
that inflated the breathless chest of the birth room,
humid from the waves we made. Broke your tiny bottle
of champagne against my thigh, covered me in your saffron spray.
I think of the parts of you that will remain once you
leave me, the haircuts I’d attempt in the front yard,
your curls carpeting the black night, braiding
themselves into the soil of the planter box.
How each time I’d go out to pluck a lemon, too soft
to last like the hard store-bought ones, I’d see
your hair slowly integrating its way into the skin
of the raised bed. I tell the lemon tree how
if you leave me, permanently, I will conjure you
from the dark flesh of the earth, where I’ve planted
your golden-tipped antennae, your fiberless baby teeth,
how you will rise from the garden like a Cabbage
Patch kid, headfirst from the dead.
• • •
TO READ MORE POETRY, PICK UP A COPY OF VOL 56 No. 1
ALAFIA NICOLE SESSIONS is a black poet and mother from Los Angeles. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, Radar Poetry, the Los Angeles Review, Tahoma Literary Journal, Green Mountains Review, Glint Literary Journal, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. Alafia is a recipient of the 2021 Sustainable Arts Foundation award. She is an MFA candidate at Randolph College.