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  • Writer's pictureYasmine Bolden

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.

Artist's Statement

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.

Follow Yasmine Bolden (they/she) on Instagram @blackpunningpoet

Follow Rachel Goulston (she/her) on Instagram @r.goulz

Follow Raven Tucker (she/they) on Instagram @the.shaleese

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