as children we ate
water-activated food in a pouch
on cold floors around the tv
a tradition found by two generations
of american soldiers after they’ve enlisted
our father spit out cadences
while we danced around fruit flies
in the backyard and mother yelled at us
for digging our soles in dirt for her
to scrub off later
in 2003 we grew two years
without our father
held by sunlight while he captured
darkness washed over the desert.
i’ve been told that Black children
live without their fathers all the time
some vanished and some buried
twenty years of service
now we eat around the dinner table
cedar trees tapping at the window
startling my father every so often
1. A solemn request for help / I was six and didn’t understand why my mother stretched her hands before bed. Requests written on the inside of her eyelids as she crossed her tongue, hoping He would hear her.
2. In Genesis, Father created man. Not my father, but the one my mother whispers to at 1 AM after patrolling the house for crooked linen and dips in the carpet.
3. Last April, I abstained from food, surviving off of black tea and broken ice chips, because the preacher’s son told me Yahweh appeared to him at sunset and promised spiritual strength for his children. I’m still waiting for an absolution.
“Nine months pregnant when I said a prayer through morphine and regurgitation for physical healing and divine motherhood.”
Amber Moss: “I am a Black writer and editor from Atlanta. I earned my bachelor's degree in English from the University of South Florida. I am the author of one full-length poetry collection and two chapbooks. My latest chapbook, Some Kind Of Black, is forthcoming in 2021 (Nymeria Publishing). My poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The Good Life Review, Bewildering Stories, Little Rose Magazine, Liminality Magzine, Poetry Super Highway, and others.”