Writing Catalog

Ti-Quetta Smith

Grade: 12

Cleveland School of the Arts

Instructor: Amber Jacob

Sweet Cornbread Kisses


Sweet Cornbread Kisses

Nothing as warm as the engulfing embrace of my grandmother's cooking
Nothing as sweet as the honey dripping from our chins
Nothing as loud as a stomachs' singing,
begging to be full.

When people start trickling in
and the house is stuffed,
with the walls bursting at the seams
is when I decide I have somewhere I belong,
in between sweet cornbread and brown sugar,
my own laughter lost under a chorus of tenderness
and a whole heart.
If the lights were on, I knew someone loved me,
And if I that house still loves me, I will be soft inside forever,
No matter how much I imitate darkness
Cos I was born from light, From love,
From a house stuffed so full
the walls threatened to burst.

I figure, it must be bleak without the mattress in the living room,
Without tiny feet running through the place to disturb the downstairs neighbors,
Without shoes lined up through the hallway and drawings on the walls,
I know you miss it,
Turning off the TV for us while we sleep,
Holding love in silence,
In untying shoelaces,
Feeding birds in the mornings,
A sleepy forehead kiss goodnight—I do too, sometimes.

I remember it all
Waking up in the middle of a school night
Standing in that cold bitter air
Holding my mom's hand with a ache in my heart
Family that loved loud and stubborn
Stubbornness that diminishes connections,
Pauses, that beg for forgiveness,
Lips pursed into a thin line so you don't have to ask us to
Come home. Please.
And after a while we never do.
It's always good to see you though.
You hug me like I'm still dancing in your kitchen
Singing to your old people music,
You speak to me like you were never the thundering voice waking me up out of my dreams,
You still kiss my forehead like an apology
And I can forgive you.