We Never Stop Talking
about Our Mothers

Renee and I, hers—in the urn by her desk—
and mine, alive in an apartment forty minutes
from here, probably watching a telenovela, frying
plantains, texting me goodnight. Renee’s mother isn’t
really in the urn. She’s in the blue wall,
the beach landscape painting, the dog
barking at the unexpected, the jangle of silver bracelets.
We are all carrying our mothers, and we are all better
daughters with the dead. She tells me I am wise,
and all I can think about are the moments of my unwiseness:
and sipping margaritas from a water bottle, the bruise
on my arm and taking him back. Her husband
is away at the family cabin, and she is glad
for the space. My husband doesn’t exist, and I am
sad for the space I make my home in. I buy sunflowers
and goat cheese, throw a dinner party for the ghosts.
I don’t know Renee’s mother’s name, to send a proper invitation.
I don’t know the names of the women in my family
past my great-grandmother. How will I call upon them
when it’s time? Will I call them Mary or Venus
or Yemaya? I’ve yet to burn the palo santo, the sage.
I want to leave behind a legacy of light.
I want to leave someone better.

Read on . . .

Mother and Daughter,” a poem by Hayan Charara