Political Content Writing Workshop:
Don’t Want to Write
Another Boat Poem
Mother Passes Fear like
Life Saver Hard Candies
I remember the cracked orange stucco of the apartment building—orange breaking into 4ths, 8ths, and 16ths. I remember the neighbors below, the way they fought on Friday nights and the row of beer cans that lined their patio in long ribbons of silver when I awoke on Saturday mornings.
My mother and her boyfriend fought too, although not as regularly as the neighbors below. I remember the schefflera plant that hung in the living room from a brass hook, whose cuttings populated every room.
I remember the day that plant’s leaves and stems were tossed to the floor tossed on the floor, a now mottled yellow. Its dirt trail the argument just missed. My mother squatting with dustpan in hand, scooping roots, white balls of fertilizer that glisten against brown carpet. Her fingers so very long, red into bone. I remember her saying we have to move again and this boyfriend will not be coming with us.
I remember running to the chain link fence that separated our orange apartment building from the tract houses on the hill. Mother says they are owners there and when she ever meets the right kind of man we will be owners too.
I place bent fingers into the fence’s metal holes and claw, climb, and watch the mustard flowers veer into Moffet Field below.
I Don’t Want to Write Another Boat Poem
Mother remembers time through wet. Dry. Wet seasons. Talks about her ten siblings that appear and disappear in times of drought, she only remembers two of their names: Victor and Mariquita. She says, “They are the two that survived.” Mother talks about earth between toes, fabric wrapped shoulder to wrist to mimic long sleeves. She raises her hands, pretends to pull on a pair of gloves, shows me the holes in her palms from coarse braided fibers held to lead the caribou into field. Mother talks about her mother’s death from broken heart and her father that never left his wife. She says she remembers the day her Lola died, running her thin brown fingers across my scalp. She says, “I remember the way the lice fanned out of her hair, I remember everything scattering.”
Mother Passes Fear like Life Saver Hard Candies
In the darkness everything is black against the flat canopy of stars. All that twinkles remains out of reach—constant. Plenty is a flat plane whose face comes in white hues dressed in pressed dungarees. In a jungle green populates at accelerated speeds. A severed limb from a Narra tree oozes blood.
The path from the jungle to the city is bent canopy on the verge of disappearing, the sound of birds shifting, waiting, and watching the body move through not yet.
Mg Roberts was born in Subic Bay, Philippines and teaches in the San Francisco Bay area. Her first book of poems, not so, sea, was published by Durga Press, 2014. She is a Kundiman Fellow and MFA graduate of New College of California, where strange tricks were added to her bag. Her work has appeared and or is forthcoming in Mission and 10th, 580 Split, The New Delta Review, Web Conjunctions, and KQED’s Writers’ Block, among others. If she were not a poet she would be a snake handler, or maybe just a good speller.