Black flies conspire in the dust
in Birmingham, Alabama.
Sweet tea, stagnant
and pooling in the cracks of the driveway
there is broken glass and ants
squirming in tar
and my mother running away
into echoes of daylight.
Black flies in Birmingham, Alabama
in the rotted railing at Nana’s house.
Tornado sirens whine, my mother
shakes, grabs her pills
my father sits at the edge
of the bed, rips at his cheeks and says
tell if I’m
alive or dead.
I shift on a black ottoman
arms crossed, untouchable.
July in Alabama is a fluttered panic
of tiny wings trying to beat the heat
buzzing and biting and hovering.
Batting them away, I expect
I won’t talk to
shadows when it’s
to bring the kids to Alabama
for the summer.
July recedes and I know
I ought to shut the door
so bugs don’t get in
among shattered things at supper
calloused hand on my wrist
when he asked if he was crazy and I couldn’t
say no and my mother was barefoot and gone.
Cat Yoke is a Boston-based poet, activist, and student pursuing her B.A. at Wellesley College. In her studies and activism she is committed to identifying and addressing social disparity and inequality. In her poetry, too, she ruminates on the consequences and manifestations of distance.