Poetry & Prose
When I was about 12 years old, there was this other black girl selling freshly squeezed lemonade in my neighborhood. She was selling each cup for $1. My dad gave me some money and told me to buy 2 cups of lemonade from her. So I did (even though I wasn’t thirsty, wasn’t particularly fond of any drink aside from water, and it was also rare to see my dad drink lemonade). But I did it. I went up to her stand and bought 2 cups.
Yesterday, I woke up in good spirits. I had an interview Downtown that I was feeling pretty good about. It was a corporate interview so I did my best to dress corporate. Black slacks. Button up. Navy blue tie and a gold tie clip. Nothing fancy.
I stare at painted ceilings, I stare at parting clouds
Confined to thoughts of interchanging forms
Your skin and cheeks when you walked through my elementary school doors
Determined to not let sickness stop you
Sometimes, I stop. I know I shouldn’t, I should keep moving, head down, eyes down, back down, hunched, picking and pulling. But sometimes I need to stop. I see you in my mind. Tiny and warm. I remember kissing you on your forehead and holding you tight to my bare breast. I couldn’t give you anything else. There was none I could give except my body.
When the winds blowing from the north are warm, no longer cold.
When stories that were passed around campfires are seldom ever told.
When freedom isn't for all, on trading blocks our rights are bought and sold.
When youth have no reason to believe, so quickly they grow old.
Eve Packer continues her photojournalistic exploration of New York (and her own emotional interior landscape) in these spare, eloquent poems. Many of the poems have dates, and some are even time-stamped, giving the impression of journal entries. In this way Packer marks events in the news, the seasons, the deaths of friends, and the closing of mom-and-pop businesses with a nod to the passing of time—a reassuring constant when so much else seems to be in flux.
On June 19, 1986, I was home from college and taking a history class in the summer session at the local junior college in my hometown. It was around 7:30 p.m. and the instructor was lecturing about the importance of the civil war. Yada yada yada… I simply didn’t feel like being there. So after a few minutes had passed, I got up from my seat and quietly walked out of the room. I went to my mother’s house, which is where I stayed in the summer awaiting the fall semester to begin. I arrived at home to find a note on the kitchen table from my mother.
Poetry, to me, is emotion or experience manifested in its most candid form. It is artistic expression so honest that only one sequence of words, thoughtfully and meticulously arranged, can express it. And though the content of its expression might be weakness, or embarrassment or fear or imperfection, the expression is perfect in itself. In this way, in this honest, perfect imperfection, my mother exemplifies poetry.