—rheumatic fever—turns the skin—yellow—a heart, scarred——soon—my mother says—you will—take my place—I wear her old stockings—dye my hair henna—like hers—smoke cigarettes—wear red lipstick—her fringed leather jacket—at 18—at the sewing machine—my foot is hers—pressing the pedal—there’s a murmur—in your heart—the doctor says—but soon it will heal—in the afternoon—I birth a child—walk down the hallway—in her turquoise bathrobe—at the zoo—an old female orangutan—locks eyes—with a young woman—breastfeeding a baby—yes, she nods, me, too—at 37—my two children sound asleep—and all of a sudden—I wake up—surprised to be alive—what about—the others—I think—the motherless migrants—the refugees—the cumulative wound—rooms—that murmur—and whisper—remember me—take care of them—take care of you— (20 May 2017)
First published in The Journal of Poetics Research.
Barbara Henning is the author of several collections of poetry, her most recent A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press 2015). Other recents include A Swift Passage (Quale Press), Cities and Memory (Chax Press) and a collection of object-sonnets, My Autobiography (United Artists). She has published three novels, Thirty Miles to Rosebud, You Me and the Insects and Black Lace, and she is the editor of Looking Up Harryette Mullen and The Collected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Born in Detroit, Barbara lives in Brooklyn and teaches for Long Island University, as well as writers.com. http://barbarahenning.com
Painting Homeless by Fernand Pelez.