Midwife of scarce warmth,
Mrs. Wilson’s lamplight air.
Her cod-liver tongue, talcum bosom
& cursive note of thorny expectations:
Come see me when I can best assist.
Bring two, bleached sheets.
My fee in 1970 a hundred dollars.
Aretha’s “I Say a Little Prayer”
Salt & sautée my mother’s lilt.
Closer to thirty than strength,
I straddle a stool; Salem’s ashes
Flicked in hair-grease top
Fastened to roots, love & story.
It’s Thursday before Thanksgiving—
Each half-mile, (she walks to & fro),
The moon, a vat of pelvic threat.
Scheduled curls oil the world.
Baby between thumb & formula,
The same day catching her & stove
Singing mismatched ditties: Yams
Meatloaf. Before I put on my makeup
The moment I wake up.
Copyright © 2021 Rodney Terich Leonard
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.