“POODLES AND SOUR CREAM”
I am the third generation of daughters
whose mother worked as a domestic
in that Great Neck house of poodles and sour cream
girls younger than me
called my mother by a nickname
Genie, what’s for breakfast
Genie, wash my hair
Genie, take my bike out
Genie, get my boots off
my mother who raised me to call elders
tanty, uncle, granny related or not
Tanty Evelyn, Tanty Vida, Uncle Dadoo, Uncle Horatio
even the bum with the limp was called Mister -broke-up-foot
in that cold New York house
my mother spent three years eating mashed potatoes
and sour cream doing sleep-in work
waiting for she green card to come
and every night crying for the beloved daughter
she could not care for while raising the white lady chiren.
This selection comes from the collection Arrival, available from Northwestern University Press. Order your copy here. Our curator for May is Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie.
Cheryl Boyce-Taylor is a poet and workshop facilitator. The recipient of the 2015 Barnes and Noble Writers For Writers Award, she is the founder and curator of Calypso Muse and the Glitter Pomegranate Performance Series. Cheryl earned an MFA in Poetry from Stonecoast: The University of Southern Maine, and an MSW from Fordham University. She is the author of three collections of poetry: Raw Air, Night When Moon Follows, and Convincing the Body. A poetry judge for The New York Foundation for the Arts, and The Astraea Foundation, she has facilitated poetry workshops for Cave Canem, Poets & Writers, Poets House, and The Caribbean Literary and Cultural Center. Her poetry has been commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow, The Joyce Theater, and the National Endowment for the Arts for Ronald K. Brown: Evidence, A Dance Company. A VONA fellow, her work has been published in Callaloo, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Pluck!, Killings Journal of Arts & Letters, Adrienne, and Prairie Schooner. Her fourth book, Arrival, is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press in June 2017. Find her online here.
Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is the author of Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation (Grand Concourse Press) and Karma’s Footsteps (Flipped Eye Publishing). Her work has been published in North American Review, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Black Renaissance Noire, VIDA, Crab Orchard Review, BOMB, Paris/Atlantic, and Listen Up! (One World Ballantine). Ekere has travelled across the United States sharing her poetry and ideas about healing. She has taught in New York, London, Amsterdam and Rundu, Namibia. Ekere earned an MFA from Mills College in 2002. She is a mother of three girls and an enthusiast of plant medicine making. Her cinepoems, herbal classes, and other work can be found here.