Facing It

Always the same questions
of blood and bread breaking,
eaten in communion
with what we know — this chair,
the candle flickering.
With what we don’t — the dark
outside the window, night
ashen like the voice of my hands.

If I could again be a child
at my mother’s side,
I would believe in the stove,
the lit room; in her skirt
swishing against my face
as I crumpled the hem in my fist,
made my hand a flag to wave
my mother’s love into my skin.

I once was lost
but now am found,
she hummed.
And we were, she and I.
And I believed in the night
more fiercely, believed
in my mother, my hand wrapt
in her skirt, moving back and forth
across my face, her face, the face
of God, the face I loved.

From Song of Thieves by Shara McCallum.
Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
© 2003.