but which verbs do you employ when it’s clear that you are trying 
to side-eye murder your mother, when you are the chilling moral

of every blazing honor thy Sunday sermon, when you are nothing 
less than blasphemy blown wide? How you do lift the bleating

cell to your ear when what you hope to hear is an awkward cough
introducing some industrious RN’s practiced coo, an I’m so sorry

to inform you followed by a flat trisyllable twang, the Alabama 
name of the woman who spent years drilling you with grammatically

hilarious tenets and a Gospel so austere you wet the bed believing it?
All you remember of those unrelenting lessons is a sky-eyed white

man poised to both consecrate and slap you sinless, and a heaven 
spewing feral light just beyond your fingers. It was your mother

who begged a confounded congregation to infuse you with the holy, 
so a bevy of bored elders mumbled a few maybes and shoved your

nappy head into a plastic pool of tepid water, one quickly twitching 
a nipple while you flailed. But that drowning meant your mother

loved you. That little drench whitened and reversed you, scoured you 
ripe for the Lord’s gold touch. You were forgiven for so brashly sporting

your father’s face and its landscape of Negro nose, for the way you
ruined your Delta mother’s practiced city body, crudely driving your 

slick and bloody head through her and out, straight into her damned 
business. You almost killed her, the story goes and goes. When your

father died, she turned her wide back to your grief, unmothered you
for ten years. She almost killed you, your story goes and goes. Then