It’s been eight years and the ancestors in me are still burdened. I don’t know if I am gentle with them. I reheat the coffee in the microwave, find gratitude when they take what’s theirs and leave the rest. There will always be scarcity–less food, less klonopin– which is to say I own a legacy of fear. Tonight, another grandmother is dying, and I cannot heal her. But I line up my idols like bruises on my belly and perform a nostalgic ritual: I shower with my clothes on like I did as a girl with a man who wanted to be my father, when I became a little bird, helpless to affection. Did he make me a good monster or a bad one? I can keep my cage clean, wipe my mouth with my thumb.
Diannely Antigua is a Dominican American poet and educator, born and raised in Massachusetts. Her debut collection Ugly Music (YesYes Books, 2019) was the winner of the Pamet River Prize and a 2020 Whiting Award.