To The Bearers of This Supposed Burden
did by me better than Mama.
To say your goodbyes early,
throw in an "I love you" for good measure,
that laugh like a fish hook caught in dust.
Sin, should be what I was named after.
Fuck and flee,
to be raised by granny and grandaddy
Lay down in your denial,
name it Daughter.
Once you lie with the liar,
don't call him, he won't call us,
you were his 1-800 number.
they will chant.
Mama's brown hair,
Mama's brown eyes,
Mama's baby, baby girl.
In preschool we receive androgynous
shapes to make ourselves.
Add bows or bow ties,
long or short hair.
Brown is wrong,
they will chant.
Red. Red. Red hair.
Teacher, roll me the red crayon,
and I will mark the A.
My hair is your mother's, Mama,
the woman who bore you,
the woman you hate for it,
and must call Mama, Mama,
I don't hate you for my life,
and I am not your sin.
I bore the sky for you,
while you colored it with soot
soaked from your tobacco drugged
I love yous.
I did not still your life.
To An Unborn Daughter
In the ether, you and I,
a place without a place,
but ether is there,
and either I am a fool,
or just in a place.
I was there, before,
my mother's mother
wanted me unconceived,
and years later, conceived
and raised like the dead,
I tended the earth with my family,
until one by one they each returned
to the soil they loved.
Turning from me, Mama tilled typekeys,
plowed through patient records,
courted our laundry and almost married
the dog that died upon my graduation,
turning on her side, ashes in the ether.
You are there now,
and I don't know you.
Like my mother's mother's mother,
I fear our death before our time,
but at least I know where you are coming from,
even if I don't know you.
it is your choice
to be born,
to live a life.
Hopes for Her
I hope she folds words to her chest,
the wings of her little girl storybook
lifting her above the bigness of impossibility
and the smallness of people
they are playing
players in roles
half dreamt as they sleepwalk.
I hope characters comfort her when I can't.
don't, won't, or refuse to understand:
Why we are wiser before we grow hair everywhere,
When we were the same and used to fit
into a larger world, larger than ourselves,
When she inserts herself into a Man's ego and he refuses
to let her remain a whole Woman.
I hope she dreams lucidly and freely in the waking
dream and strings each step, trailing shoelaces
never stepped on, because tripping yourself is the worst
fall you can take. Let her prefer
over all things.
Tiffany Chaney is a writer and artist living in North Carolina. Chaney attended Salem College, obtained a B.A. in creative writing and won the Lucy Bramlette Patterson Award in 2008. Her writing and art can be found in Thrush Poetry Journal, Ophelia Street, Pedestal Magazine, and others. Visit www.tiffanychaney.com.