Cotton and Coconut  by Michelle Grue

Phone turned off, but I can still hear the elegiac
wails of mothers unmade by bullets shot by
my money turned into taxes,
turned into uniforms with golden shields
more afraid of unarmed melanin than white

Generations of hatred that disregard the sanctity of Black lives
Black queer lives, young lives, old lives, ratchet lives, politics of respectability made flesh – none safe
Tragedy unpunished because of policies and laws and the comfortable
ignorance of everyday people unwilling to remove
rose-colored glasses that hide the reality of a
nation we love that we wish loved us back

I can’t un-see the latest viral video of generations of hope turned into a corpse,
but I can feel the black cotton in the field of my son’s head rub against my face.
I can smell the coconut as his hair tickles my nose.
I hear the hallelujah in every rustle his warm child body makes against mine.
I marvel at how he takes every scarred lump and fleshy cranny of my body and
remixes them into safety,
a sense of security I know is an illusion.

Hands that dump flour into a mixing bowl, that
tug mine as we count pinecones, that
hold mine as we dance to the Motown songs of my Dad’s
youth, my youth, now his youth
anchor me while I try not to hear the
haunting of

Michelle Grue is a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She studies higher education pedagogy and Writing Studies through the lenses of intersectionality and critical digital literacies. She has previously published in Zingara Poetry Review, the fantasy journal Astral Waters Review, the Expressionists Magazine of the Arts, and DASH Literary Journal. Feeding her creative energies and making space during motherhood and graduate school life has been a challenging pleasure.


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