• Marías at Sampaguitas

Poem by Gervanna Stephens

“Well this doesn’t rhyme, instead of...”


My mother sends me old pictures of myself, the caption reads ‘memories.’ I open my camera, snap my face and send one in return she responds ‘your acne is flaring up’ I say ‘thank you, have a good day’ she moves the conversation on and I stop replying.


This is tough love the love that says

you’ve gained weight instead of it’s good to see you that says you just dash weh yuh mada instead of I miss you that says your hair used to be so nice and long instead of just saying hello that says where’s the other 2% when you get a 98 on a test instead of good job.


This is tough love

that never says the words without some hidden guilt.

This is tough love

and so I smile, say thank you, and have a good day, because the Bible says and my mother was ardent about that stuff and so I grew up— on tough love and God’s love and overwhelmed in disappointment at not knowing the difference.




Gervanna Stephens is a Jamaican poet and proud Slytherin with congenital amputation living in Canada. She is Assistant Editor with The/tƐmz/Review, hates public speaking, has two sisters who are better writers than her & thinks unicorns laugh when we say they aren’t real. Recent or forthcoming work can be found in Moonchild Magazine, Ghost City Press, Montreal Writes and Yes Poetry. She is a regular contributor for Marías at Sampaguitas.

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