twenty years


twenty years


inay peeled eggshells
from hard-boiled eggs
until her own fingers peeled
revealing red raw flesh

scrubbed masters’ floors
with dried up coconut husks
white sweet scent drift
to painted ceilings with corinthian pillars
waft north where heaven meets
park avenue

three thousand hours
of thighs stuck to plastic bus seats
from queens to upper east
to pick up brown babies
from white day care

scraping memory
for dirty fingernails browned
with dried ice cream,
wide noses,
moles, and birthmarks,
summoning the brown skin
of her own babies

if only noses, moles,
birthmarks, skin can touch
seven thousand miles apart

sleeping on ten-dollar cot
springs squeak every time
god wants to talk
god, do my babies’ hairs still curl like mine?


I sip bland, six-dollar iced tea
brooklyn wind shakes tree branches
green leaves shimmy
in and out of sunlight

I press five silver keys
push door open
up forty-eight steps
I enter
pristine three-bedroom
with wood floors,
natural sunlight,
washer and dryer in unit

I sleep on memory foam
white cotton sheets
softer and sweeter than
white coconut flesh
fifteen-year old texture of my motherland
still grazing my tongue

I paint my toenails
after candlelit lavender bath
a two-hundred-dollar electric brush
scrubs my pores clean
I use three pink plastic floss sticks
flossing with string is too difficult

I find a seat on the subway
head nodding to sleep
all the way to essex street
where fire escapes butterfly-kiss blue sky

inay, did the bricks boast their best shade of red
when you walked past them?


inay peeled eggshells
until her fingers were as raw
as the spicy tuna
in my fourteen-dollar poke bowl