Author | Ariana Brown
My great grandmother calls me to say ‘I love you.’
She, a wrinkled ebony woman,
press ‘n curl etching itself ‘cross her head,
still calls her dead husband ‘Pal’.
She raised my daddy and his brothers and his sister
in a tiny house in Galveston. She ask me how I am.
She want me to be blessed.
She talk, and a record scratches
between her throat and my ear.
My great granny a harbor for all the blues songs
pulled from red & white violences.
She remembers the names of everyone
in our family. Walk down the street with her,
in her fur hat, and new church clothes, and everybody stop
to talk to Ma’dea. High school cafeteria lady, retired choir director,
always raisin’ somebody else’s kid
so the outside don’t swallow em up in a white curled fist.
My great granny got a stack
of restaurant style to-go boxes in her dining room.
You ain’t leavin’ her house without food. Without love.
Without knowing you are divinely accounted for.
When I was little, my mama would hand me the phone
and I struggled to keep up with Granny’s pace.
Women who survived the unsurviveable move
faster than bullets. My great granny’s mouth
sound like the South picked itself up and ran
to the water. Ain’t stop running,
ain’t stop learning to breathe
in places that ain’t got no air. This what it means to be black
and from Texas. This what it means to be brown and from Texas.
When my great granny leave me a message on election night,
she don’t say nothin’ about politics. She know,
better than any, how long grief is. She choose me
instead. She say words like “wonderful,” “proud,” “hope,” “continue.”
She say, “I love you to death.”
And I know she mean it. Cuz how else
could I still be here, and black, and brown, and alive.
About the Author | Ariana Brown is an Afromexicana poet from San Antonio, Texas, with a B.A. in African Diaspora Studies and Mexican American Studies from UT Austin. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and a 2014 collegiate national poetry slam champion. An alum of Brave New Voices, Ariana has performed across the U.S. at venues such as the San Antonio Guadalupe Theater, University of California - Santa Cruz, Tucson Poetry Festival, and the San Francisco Opera Theatre. When she is not onstage, she is probably eating an avocado, listening to the Kumbia Kings, or validating black girl rage in all its miraculous forms. Her work is published in Huizache, Rattle, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and ¡Manteca!: An Anthology of Afro-Latin@ Poets from Arte Público Press.