Things I Car­ried Com­ing Into the World

Rem­ica L. Bingham

PMS 8 | 2008

The weight of my par­ents,
the dawn of them;
my grandmother’s lack­lus­ter
life; the guilt of my grandfather’s mis­tress
after he’d been scalded with hot
water, ten­der flesh boil­ing on his back;
my color, the umber slick of it
deep­en­ing over two weeks time,
an aunt wor­ry­ing it would never stop;
the heart of a boy, whose name
was for­got­ten before it was given,
who passed me a note in fourth grade
that I spat upon and shot back
in scrib­bled, torn pieces;
oblig­a­tion, the bane of mem­ory,
the cleft a loss in 1967 cre­ates
when a mother of mine
two moth­ers removed, was left
bro­ken on the side­walk
after a drunk white man
jumped the curve
in the col­ored neigh­bor­hood,
the dark­ness of the famil­iar voice
that has to tell me this;
my father’s falsetto
before nico­tine had its way
with his voice; Jesus and all
his demands; soft hands;
the sight of a woman
at my first funeral, called away
to God, erupted, brought back
in a clap­board church;
the bend of a slow, steady hump
over­pow­er­ing an uncle’s back;
my godson’s ver­mil­lion face,
the uncer­tainty of him,
the walk I took with his mother,
past the clinic on through
to the other side;
a fist­ful of want­ing; a blow
to the insides when dis­tance
walks in; the braid of death,
streaked and rib­boned against
my family’s back, its greedy
inter­rup­tion, its per­sis­tence,
the unwanted strands
of the thick-laced thing.