When you held him, how heavy was his head cradled in your lap? How long did you carry that weight in your thighs? Did you close his eyes or keep them open, waiting for the final glimmer before ghost? What did it feel like to wash the red stain from your hands, water and blood dripping down the drain? Your hands, a thousand feathers. Your hands, permanently curved around the back of his neck. Your hands, scrubbed clean. Your hands, facing upward, longing for rain.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written in response to a prompt about ancestry. As a transracial adoptee, biological ancestry is complicated for me, so I decided to write into another kind of lineage. Yuri Kochiyama was an Asian American activist and held Malcolm X's head in her lap as he died. Her life and story deserve more attention, especially when solidarity between Black and Asian movement spaces remains often unacknowledged. I wrote this poem to honor Yuri, her grief, courage, and legacy.
Added: Tuesday, November 29, 2022 / Poem used with permission.
Tiana Nobile is the author of Cleave (Hub City Press, 2021). She is a Korean American adoptee, Kundiman fellow, and recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award. A finalist of the National Poetry Series and Kundiman Poetry Prize, her writing has appeared in Poetry Northwest, The New Republic, Guernica, and Southern Cultures, among others. A founding member of The Starlings Collective, she lives with her family in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Image Description: Tiana Nobile smiles leaning to one side against a rust-colored wall. She has shoulder length brown and blonde hair and is wearing a black tank top.