Published in Longstoryshort.com, 2010
it has been eighteen years
Out of corner of my eye, I thought
sun slanted peachcream into us
I have to remember
a tightly curled ponytail, shades covering her eyes
Her shadowed hair
buckroe beach crumpled beneath
The way sun creams down on
untender touch of sand castle builders.
Brown of her shoulders like a praise.
she used to be that little black girl, ashened
Like sharks whispering reverence near us in cool crystal deep
pushing grains into submission
A daughter’s cusp eyes
folding salt and water into imagery mote.
Young, at the beginning of life’s edge where
she laughs at high yellow girl who, unaware,
Chipped bones of ancestors wade, pushing prayers
threw her own hairpiece at another screaming friend
Into her old timey eyes, recognizing kin. They know my daughter,
triffling, curl of afiya’s mouth say.
Like rocking chairs and lamps that flicker out
jellyfish slip up next to her, translucent with longing
At first lightning crack, at first thunder strike
desperate for the kiss, the flesh of her.
Her knowing, full in the mouth of a storm.
No paper, no pencil
she is at once the girlchild I raised, washed, kept
and the woman who will leave me behind
A space, then nothing between us
i look again and she is just my daughter
The salt rising
walking beside me, laughing.
It has been eighteen years
The last, the first
as sun slanted peach rain against our arms, lips
I memorize it, thinking, I must remember
there was a poem here somewhere.
(c) Shonda Buchanan