i can’t stop feeling this feeling
my aunts & my mother
are all so nervous! i think
i am too! this house
of nervous! women!
when one of us
we all shake! my women
too! like black cats
––all frightened and small! all
left out in night! nervous!
all wide eyes & trembles! no
milk to come back to! only
barren homes! only dust
& moonshine! molasses
thick & heavy like
the pain in our shoulders,
our lower backs are nervous!
so nervous! they start growing
roots! we so nervous, we grow
we are nervous, oh yes, oh,
we cry! we cry
cry! we nervous cry! nervous
cry so hard our skin
cracks! yes, they lied, they
lied, our skin cracks! right down the
middle! nervous forehead
lines! nervous laughter! nervous
rocking! back &
forth! we rock so hard
they call it dance! they name
a genre after it! ha! rock
music! rock music
makes us nervous! we nervous
women! we all in
the house pulling moon
down with laundry lines, nervous! tugging,
nervous! we are
not thieves, we are nervous! we only take
what is rightfully ours because we are nervous! scared
of the dark, nervous! didn’t even know we
are the dark, nervous! with the moon
in our bedrooms, rope around our fingers, eyes
easing closed with sleep, we dream we are not
nervous! anymore! we dream we are pregnant
without growing nervous! in our
TIME IS ABUNDANCE
THE NIGHT I MAKE ALL MY TEETH GOLD, I ALSO
GIVE BIRTH TO TIME. I HOLD TIME IN MY ARMS. I TELL TIME
MY FAVORITE NURSERY RHYMES. THEN, I HOP INTO MY NEW CAR
AND TAKE TIME TO THE FARMER’S MARKET. SURE, SHE A LITTLE YOUNG FOR STRAWBERRIES
AND SHIT BUT EVERYBODY AT THEIR BOOTHS THINK TIME IS REAL CUTE, AND THEY ALL WANNA
HOLD HER. BUT TIME IS TOO PRECIOUS FOR STRANGER ARMS AND CANDY SMILES. SHE IS MINE, I
GAVE BIRTH TO HER, AND WE HAVE A LOT TO DO TODAY.
THE NEXT THING I DO IS GO TO TARGET. AS I AM EXCHANGING MY DIAMONDS
FOR KITCHEN TOWELS, TIME STARTS TO GROW LEGS. TIME LEARNS TO WALK. THE CASHIER
SMILES, TEETH GOLD TOO, SAYS, “OH THEY GROW SO FAST DON’T THEY? MY TIME JUST WENT
TO COLLEGE”––I STOP THEM MID-SENTENCE, MY ANXIETY TURNING DIAMONDS BACK TO
COAL IN MY PALMS. TIME WIGGLES OUT MY ARMS AND RUNS DOWN THE CLEARANCE ISLE.
I CATCH TIME IN THE MAKEUP SECTION, TRYING ON MAYBELLINE. I GRAB HER HAND AND TELL HER I’M NOT BUYING THAT TODAY. TIME BLINKS AT ME, SAYS THAT SHE’S ALREADY GOT A JOB AND SHE DON’T NEED MY MONEY ANYMORE. I DON’T THINK SHE’S SO CUTE ANY LONGER. I SAY TO HER: I GAVE BIRTH TO YOU, YOU ARE MINE, AND WE HAVE A LOT TO
DO TODAY. LET’S GO.
THE NEXT STOP IS A BEAUTY SHOP ON 95TH STREET, AND WE ALL KNOW HOW LONG
THAT SOUTH SIDE CHAIR SITS. AS I’M WAITING WITH MAGAZINE AND MELTING ICE OVER COLA, TIME BUYS HERSELF A BOOTH. SHE DYES HER HAIR, THEN SHAVES IT, AND THEN WATCHES IT ALL GROW BACK AGAIN. I STEW IN MY SEAT, MY COLA HOT, ICE INTO WATER, READING FINISHED. I THINK EVEN THE GOLD
IN MY TEETH IS STARTING TO SLIDE WITH AGE. MY SILVER WATCH TICK, TICK, TICKS AS TIME GOES ON TO LOC HER HAIR, GET A DEGREE, AND THEN CUT IT ALL OFF AGAIN.
BY THE TIME I AM IN THE CHAIR, TIME IS APPLYING FOR HER MFA. I BEG
HER NOT TO LEAVE ME, NOT TO GO TOO FAR––WHAT WOULD I BE WITHOUT HER? MY HAIRDRESSER
YANKS HER WIDE-TOOTH COMB THROUGH MY HAIR AS I WEEP. TIME ISN’T LISTENING WHEN I BEGIN TO
COMPLAIN TO MY STYLIST. I GAVE BIRTH TO HER, I AM SAYING BETWEEN HICCUPS. MY STYLIST DANGLES A GRAY HAIR BETWEEN MY EYES. SHE IS MINE, I TAKE THE HAIR INTO MY HANDS. AND WE HAVE A LOT TO DO
FINALLY, AT HOME, I AM PREPARING DINNER WITH MY SHOES OFF, MY BRA OFF, MY HAIR DOWN. I’VE GOT BREAD BAKING IN THE OVEN, AND FILET MIGNON ON THE STOVE. TIME IS NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO ME WHEN I TALK ABOUT MY PLANS FOR THE WEEK. I AM WORRY STRESS WRINKLE TEARS. SHE IS PLANS TODAY, GONE TOMORROW, NOT LISTENING ANYMORE. SHE SAYS I OWE HER MONEY, REACHES HAND OUT PALM FLAT, I PURSE MY LIPS REAL TIGHT SAY GIIIIIIIIIRRLLLLLLLLL. YOU GOT A LOT OF NERVE.
IT HAS BEEN QUITE A DAY AND I CAN’T BELIEVE TIME IS RUNNIN’ HER MOUTH AT ME LIKE I DIDN’T JUST BIRTH HER FROM MY FLESH. LIKE I DIDN’T CARRY HER, FEED HER, BRUSH HER HAIR IN THE MORNINGS. LIKE I DIDN’T WAIT FOR HER AND WAIT FOR HER AND PRAY FOR HER AND WISH FOR HER AND I AM TELLING HER THIS WITH MY GOLD TEETH SLAPPING EACH OTHER AROUND IN MY MOUTH, MOUTH SHINNING WITH WEALTHY ANGER, BECAUSE I HAVE THE TIME TODAY. I FORGET THE FOOD AND MY DINNER GOES UP IN FLAMES––STEAK INTO ASH, BREAD TO DUST, TIME TO
WASTE. WHEN I TURN TO SILENCE MY SCREAMING ALARM, TIME GRIMACES AT ME.
IN THE MINUTES IT TOOK TO EXTINGUISH THE FLAME, TIME HAS PACKED HER ENTIRE ROOM UP INTO PLASTIC GARBAGE BAGS. SAYS SHE’S LEAVING ME TODAY, SHE CAN’T LIVE WITH ME NO LONGER. I AM SUFFOCATING AND MEAN. I ASK TOO MUCH OF HER. SAYS SHE DON’T GET A BREAK. I STUTTER AND ANGER. I OFFEND AND TAKE BACK. I DON’T THANK HER. I DON’T HONOR HER BOUNDARIES. I DON’T SAY I’M SORRY. I ASK FOR MORE THAN SHE CAN GIVE. SHE IS JUST A GIRL, SHE SAYS TO ME.
SHE WALKS OUT THE DOOR. SHE GETS IN HER UBER. I STARE OPEN MOUTH. I GRAY AT THE TEMPLES. MY
TEETH GOLD FALLING, MY FINGERS ALL WRINKLY. I SHAPE A CANE OUT OF DEAD TREE AND ATTEMPT TO CHASE HER DOWN. ALL THE SAME I AM SAYING THAT SHE IS MINE. I GAVE BIRTH TO HER. AND I STILL, TRULY
HAVE A LOT TO DO TODAY.
Talia Wright (they/she) was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. They are a poetry/prose writer and 2019 Pink Door Fellow. They have been published in In These Times, Changing Womxn, Hooligan Magazine, and more. Their work is informed by blackness, the great migration, and spending summer afternoons dancing under their grandparents’ Mulberry tree. Follow them on instagram @cherub.jpeg.