By Tianni Montgomery
I remember the times you’d teach me karate
in the backyard with mother’s reluctant approval.
The yard yellowed from neglect of the tender touch
of the summer’s warmth. The grass padded the soles
of our feet as you prompted me to ball up
my tiny hand with your own.
I watched as mine disappeared beneath the flesh.
I felt the heat escape from your body
that calmed the cold wind that nipped.
My fists converged
into your wide and cracked,
caked with day’s long work,
but your feet always
stuck close to the earth.
I wanted my fists to obliterate
all the barriers between us,
I saw how the war remained wedged in the pupils of your eyes.
I know you pretended it didn’t affect you.
I striked with my foot,
I’m too weak to reach.
You’d smile and look down,
towering over me.
You reminded me of a tree trunk
Those days our bodies sliced
through the still air
before the movement started to cease.
And the grass padding our feet
transformed into hospital beds consoling
your tender back. And the pressure
of my fists colliding into your roughed palm
morphed into IVs attached to your wrist.
by strangers in white who only see you
for what’s metastasizing
within the confines of your mind.
I stand close
on the other side
of the curving lines
etched in your palm
to be a reminder
for when you stood
planted to the ground.