Poetry: Final Poem For My Mother by Ajanae Dawkins
What simpler purpose could poetry serve? To reach out, with love, to those we are losing, have lost, will lose? With grace, with love—for us as much as herself, Ajanae Dawkins has written a poem we are all afraid to write.
Final Poem For My Mother
After Phillip B. Williams
I betrayed you. It’s not that simple, but it is. Every day, I can see
more of myself. My erratic beauty. My sick brain. My cruelty
growing visible from beneath my gums. I am nauseous with regret
and in love with the possibility of mending. It’s impolite to say
but if you die now, I will never forgive myself. This is no eulogy. I am
building the love of our future. I am crafting you a tongue. I am gathering
ears. I am sewing my mouth shut with a steady hand. I know, now. Now,
I know, how memory is communal and not a gun. I want to archive;
your heart’s largest valve, your decision to be a mother, all your secret
dreams. I can’t yet buy you a house but I can build you a language
without shame. Please, forgive me for who I was and I will forgive myself
for wanting to make daughters. Knowing what I know now,
I can love you better. Let us give our calloused mouths back to the god
of stone. Momma, pray with me. For; our rowdy blood, our split nerves,
what comes in the morning. Mom, I’m a woman now and it hurts
to breathe. I’m a woman and I can’t see.
Ajanae Dawkins is a poet, performer, and educator. She has been published in The Rumpus, The EcoTheo Review, The BreakBeat Poets Black Girl Magic Anthology, The Offing, and more. Ajanae is the winner of Tinderbox Poetry Journal’s Editors Prize and was a finalist for the Cave Canem Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize. She was the 2022 Duncanson Artist-in-Residence at the Taft Museum. She is a fellow of The Watering Hole’s writer’s retreat for African American writers and Pink Door. She received her MFA from Randolph College. Ajanae is currently a Co-Host of VS podcast with The Poetry Foundation, the Theology Editor for The EcoTheo Review, and an MTS candidate at Methodist Theological School of Ohio.