Looking for Clues by Maura Alia Badji
I am a mother anxiously waiting for her son past curfew.
I am his wary lope beneath floodlights.
I am the hoodie draped over the deejay’s freshly shaved head.
I am the brassy highlights in the bartender’s curls, I am the obituary of the old love shoved in her back pocket.
I am the neighbor making excuses to talk to you at dusk, lingering at the mailboxes.
I am the midnight whistle of the cross town train.
I am the dented trombone played by the scholarship student in New Orleans.
I sing the music of the Spheres trailed behind the second line.
I am the love you make with the lights on.
I am the dance you chance when you forget your cares.
I am the breath you exhale after paying your rent.
I am the last time you rode the bus, the seat you gave up, the elderly woman, the steel gray of her braids, tenderness in her stare.
I am the Ancestor murmuring in your blood.
I am the curve of the crescent moon Iman and Yasmeen spied last Ramadan.
I am the prayer that broke your heart at dawn, just before it was answered.
I am the undrawn gun in the church, the moment before it was too late.
I am the mother quieting her child hidden beneath a desk.
I am the unending grief unraveled. I am the unimaginable, audacious forgiveness we somehow can’t forgive.
I am the broken teeth of the veteran sprawled across the median at rush hour.
I am the wave of wayward stardust thrown from a mermaid’s tail.
I am the tension released from your bones as day succumbs to twilight.
I am the moan that escapes your lips, that spirals into the night.
Maura Alia Badji
Maura Alia Badji’s poems and essays have appeared in The Good Men Project, Barely South Review, Cobalt, Signals, teenytiny, The Buffalo Times, and The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the Universiy of Washington, Seattle where she was an editorial assistant at The Seattle Review. Maura is a member of the Watering Hole, an online community dedicated to people of color. She blogs about poetry, art and life at The Moxie Bee. A New York state native, she lives in Virginia Beach with her son.