Writing Catalog

Heaven Walker

Grade: 12

Cleveland School of the Arts

Instructor: Elizabeth Telich

Observations of my Mother


Observations of my Mother

my mother fears vaccines,
as if the Tuskegee sharecroppers' blood runs through her veins,
giving her an allergy to big pharma.

i know she tastes this blood
'cause she chokes on it every time her phone rings,
each ring beating the black out of her,
erasing the past 50 years,
as if she is reminded of the blackness
she keeps prisoner behind her vocal chords.

why do you swallow your blackness mama?

there are prayers in my mother's footsteps.
she walks on Matthew 19:26, each foot inscribed with a different verse
"keep your hands where i can see them"
"why do you have your guns out?"
"what are you following me for?"
"why do you have your guns out?"
"why do you have your guns out?"
"i don't have a gun. stop shooting."

she is happy she didn't name either of her sons Trayvon. or Michael. or George.or Eric.
that way, she doesn't cry each time sees their names on a headline.
have you seen the way she hides her eyes when we talk about school,
'cause she knows her children will be treated like a statistic
they were the only two kids to be given a fee waiver.
the only 2 kids who were never asked about fathers day..

i remember i asked her why we weren't allowed to play cops and robbers, and she just looked at me.
what she wanted to say was "I don't want you to rehearse your death."
I told her I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up.
she laughed and pointed her finger in the direction all little black girls go:
to the welfare office,
slinging babies like Huey Newton sling guns
section 8 running their life like
begging for their sons' lives does.

black panthers don't remember what they fought for.
their words still echo like raging djembes beating in our blood.
this is why you fear getting your blood drawn.
this is why you fear vaccines.
this is why I see you, mama, watching and waiting until they can't Trayvon Martin your sons no more.