TO THE PEOPLE IN HELL WHO WANT ICE WATER 

 

Listen up, I’m here standing where earth goiters 

into spongy dark. I’ve gotta cup and its frosty. 

I’ve gotta cup cuz I learned wanting is a lance

at the neck. But my momma wears rubies. Once, 

momma longed to zip our blood-chapped lips forever. 

Had to stop herself from snatching our asses up,

 

sis and I—ungrateful, dusty, sun-buttered—blustering

through her front door begging for popsicles. 

None of that 50-cent twin pop shit. We wanted ice

rough-buffed into powerpuffs with bubble gum eyes.  

We whined, and brass notes clattered our throats

then momma reminded us of you. All of you

 

blaring with an ambulance’s urgency. Your voices 

proof over maroon fire. Your voices like poverty

divided us from ten-speed bikes, water parks, white

friends & white kicks. People in hell sulfur 

and smoke while momma chokes dreams 

from breathing. Her own hope stacks like tender

 

in a box beneath the bed. We still burning.

America sweats beneath her torch. I don’t need you 

to remind me my heirloom is 400 years 

of yearning. Rubies bruise my momma’s neck.

I’m finna throw the cup down. Open your mouth. 

Trade me. A sip for a dream safe enough to hold.

Diamond Forde