This is still one of the most moving and elusive pieces of poetry that I’ve published here on Vita Brevis. So it’s getting a double Editor’s Choice treatment! *EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD: Bringing some of our favorite previously-published poems back to the front page.
Submitted by Shanna Maybright.
My daughter, she blended into the storm and sea
While tossing the Atlantic between her feet.
Clouds as black as her grandfather. Waves just as wrinkled.
Sea just as ancient. Youth a contradiction.
Africa is my due north. Even from this coast,
I feel my soul point back home. And she turned to it,
Like I always had, and stared off real solemn.
I’d have taught her of chains and ships, but I never understood it myself.
So I just loved her. And she loved me. And history for us is history.
And then she stopped and bent over and pulled something from the deep.
As if it’d been waiting. As if she’d been searching.
If he were still here, he’d have watched her and said:
Homarus americanus! And told us how it lived. How it bred. How it ate.
How the ghettos aren’t as bad as the lobster’s way.
How “food stamps ain’t nothing to chopped eyestalks and pitched rears”
But he’s gone. So she came to me, lobster dangling in hand.
And placed it at my feet. Where she used to crawl and hug
When the air went out. Because the floor was cooler.
And Mom, well, she was warm but warm with love.
And she looked up and asked: “How deep is the Atlantic?”
And the whole world sung through me.
“Deep as all, darling. The deepest deep.”