You put the fire in my heart
boys sing and I swear
I’m their taste of honey, girl
every dream in me awakened.
Boys sing with flair,
look slick for the camera,
every dream awake and
alive. My parents,
in the thick of ruin, click the camera,
like a sunrise, heir apparent,
on my way to my first concert.
They fracture me—
some parts mother, some father.
Soon, our first performance, our concert:
I will be five and cry as my parents scream.
Dressed like my father
in our fancy black and red
readied for five boys singing, my screaming:
tonight, we live for joy.
At home, our finery—starless, damp with sweat—
Our living joy
shuttered like an aperture.
Soon we’ll disappear
and what is harder to swallow:
joy, shuttered like an aperture
or the missing photographs, all that’s captured, lost.
What hard act will follow
our broken record? No more us, just me and her and you.
Mother and I take the photographs, you miss what’s captured,
soft, sweet nothings.
The record scratched in the move, skips, plays you…you…
my taste of honey, girl…
lost sweet nothings
you…the fire in my heart…delicious
Remica Bingham-Risher is the author of three books of poems: Starlight & Error (Diode, 2017, winner of the Diode Editions Book Prize), What We Ask of Flesh (Etruscan, 2013, shortlisted for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award), and Conversion (Lotus, 2007, winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award). She is currently the Director of Writing and Faculty Development at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. Bingham-Risher earned an MFA from Bennington College, is a Cave Canem fellow and a member of the Affrilachian Poets. Among other journals, her work has been published in New Letters, Callaloo, and Harvard Review. To read more of this author's work: "My Mother Recalls Protests," Langston Hughes Tribute, Vol. 12:1, Winter 2011.