Poetry by Khalisa Rae
Updated: Aug 6, 2020
she said she only picks the half-grown ones
a fig and lemon tree nursed past the delicate
stages, a bonsai or begonia watered in a nursery
by experienced handlers first. she says
she leaves the pruning and seeding for
gardeners with steady hands
and less trauma, that way there's less room
for error. I tell her this is how I wish to mother
to adopt after puberty and avoid the age
that holds the worst memories, to skip the steps
I will surely stumble over. I am afraid my future
children will yellow and droop, like all the other buds
that died before they bloomed.
And I will be the parent clumsy and untaught.
Watching their leaves wilt and wither— afraid
my heavy heart will stunt their growth,
won’t know when to water & when to wait
how much sun & how much silence.
I am afraid of drowning them
in all the ways I was. And how does one know
when to shelter and when to let the wildness
Khalisa Rae (she/her) is a native of North Carolina and is a graduate of the Queens University MFA program. Her recent work has been seen in Damaged Goods, Terse, Sundog Lit, Crab Fat, Glass Poetry, Luna, Luna, Brave Voices, Hellebore, Honey & Lime, Tishman Review, the Obsidian, Anchor Magazine, among others. She was a finalist in the Furious Flower Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, winner of the Fem Lit Magazine Contest, and White Stag Publishing Contest. She is Consulting Editor for Kissing Dynamite. Her forthcoming collection, Ghost in a Black Girls Throat is forthcoming from Red Hen Press and White Stag in 2021. She is also the newest Managing Equity and Inclusion Editor of Carve Magazine.