Brown Girl Dreaming
other people’s memory
You were born in the morning, Grandma Georgiana said.
I remember the sound of the birds. Mean
old blue jays squawking. They like to fight, you know.
Don’t mess with blue jays!
I hear they can kill a cat if they get mad enough.
And then the phone was ringing.
Through all that static and squawking, I heard
your mama telling me you’d come.
Another girl, I stood there thinking,
so close to the first one.
Just like your mama and Caroline. Not even
a year between them and so close, you could hardly tell
where one ended and the other started.
And that’s how I know you came in the morning.
That’s how I remember.
You came in the late afternoon, my mother said.
Two days after I turned twenty-two.
Your father was a work.
Took a rush hour bus
to get to you. But
by the time he arrived,
you were already here.
He missed the moment, my mother said,
but what else is new.
You’re the one that was born near night,
my father says.
When I saw you, I said, She’s the unlucky one
come out looking just like her daddy.
He laughs. Right off the bat, I told your mama,
We’re gonna call this one after me.
My time of birth wasn’t listed
on the certificate, then got lost again
amid other people’s bad memory.