I Remember My Grandmother On a Random October Night
Edited by Rachel Goulston
Cover art by Raven Tucker, "Reap What You Sow"
october generously hands me back
my childhood; everything is dying
but i’m too apple-cidered and love-struck
at the sight of orange-afroed trees to
notice. i want to be. the blankets and
the warm legs curled snugly underneath them.
the autumn sunlight is a dancer and everyone
wants to capture her as her fingertips set
the leaves aglow, a soft fire touch:
everything is burning, but in the way
a middle school crush does. short. messy.
but in hindsight? necessary to get where we’re
going. be grateful, she says, for the soft
scenic route. for the love that does not shout.
for the home that you and i can become
when everything is dead and the warmth
can only return when it’s remembered,
its crafted hands reaching out like sun rays.
yes. october takes hold of our chins
and she convinces us that the dead
are still here. still beautiful. still glowing.
My name is Yasmine Bolden (they/she) and I am a Black American poet, educator, and newly minted plant parent from unceded Piscataway and Susquehannock land. I'm a 2023 Best of the Net winner in poetry and an inaugural Southern Esesu Endeavor Audre Lorde fellow. I'm studying and researching race and poetics at Johns Hopkins University. During my freshman year, I wrote this poem at the height of my Queer Existential Crisis. Whether or not my maternal grandmother, who passed away long before I had words to describe my queerness, would've affirmed me and still loved me as fiercely as she did on this side of Heaven had she known I was queer really haunted me as I was adjusting to my new dorm home away from home. And then out of nowhere, my mom mentioned that my grandmother had loved Luther Vandross, and it felt like in that moment and in the days that followed, my grandmother was telling me through all these little signs, that she loved me for all that I am and had never really left the natural world that she loved so much.
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Follow Raven Tucker (she/they) on Instagram @the.shaleese