She carries the gift of our mother’s perfect teeth,
we fight among clutter of a room and do not speak.
The girl in you, clumsier, knees asphalt bloodied
our anger throws each other into walls we do not speak.
You tiny, curious explorer, running about the playground,
the babies you held disappear we do not speak.
Your home smothered in the daytime, with vodka
the very scent of our father, to him, we do not speak.
Remember the fights of our brothers? Violent inheritance.
We mourn their fading, together, and do not speak.
You wonder where we come from, us lost girls,
a lineage of black ghosts in our skin, who do not speak.
They flutter in our bodies, churning stories,
the sheath of their strength tethered, a heavy we cannot speak.
Their alchemy holds us together despite our cracking
by some mother’s, mother’s prayer, we live and do not speak
of the past and its’ erasure of the life in our mother’s smile
she is floating adrift, without us, we do not speak.
The distance hardens us to tarnished Crystals,
we cry, alone, the secret mourns, what we do not speak.
Tatiana M.R. Johnson is a writer, artist and educator in the Boston area. She’s an MFA candidate in poetry at Emerson College and works as poetry editor for the literary journal Redivider. Her writing is forthcoming in The Journal and Transition Magazine. She’s recently been published in Southern Humanities Review as an Honorable Mention selection for the 2019 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize, judged by Vievee Francis. Her work is on display at Boston’s City Hall as a part of the 2019 Mayor’s Poetry Program and has also been published in Aesthetica Magazine, Santa Clara Review, Fog Machine, Maps for Teeth Magazine among others. She was the 2018 Gish Jen fellow for the Writer’s Room of Boston and is a 2017 Pushcart Prize XLI nominee. She has also performed at the Boston Poetry Slam and the Bowery Poetry Club.