Hierarchy of Lessons

Sitting at the traditional dining room table
Gazing into the sunlit grass.
I begin developing conversations in my head
Both pragmatic and wildly invigorating in silence.

I stare into the eyes of a ghost
Maybe an all too familiar spirit.
Her skin shimmers like gold
Her eyes deep like morning coffee
Her voice crunchy like jack fruit.

It’s with her I converse on afternoons.
I see her and questions burst
Into my chest
And plummets my bosoms.

If this spirit were the future mother, I raised
What would I teach her?
How would I frame the hierarchy of lessons?
For example, Do I say first you learn to maneuver a brush
Before you whisk liquids in a glass bowl?

Do I say pucker your lips
So trees can outline your mouth forming silhouettes the flowers poke?
Do I say bend backwards,
Make your spine flexible
So no one accuses you of standing too tall
In an isolated Queendom.

Or do I demand?
Like the lessons my unwanted parents instilled.
Generally blanched with fear and hope.
Subjects more secure and less bold.

Inspiring me to stay comfortable behind a man’s name
Instructing me to iron the tablecloth
So no one can notice wrinkles in our heritage.
Unlearning home and blending with white picket fences
And cubicle stress.
That’s why they say obey before you disappoint.

Maybe that’s why my womb carried boys
I lost my tenderness with the serpents rattle.
I would pass down inheritance of tough skin
Loud mouths with mis-educated duct tape.

I wouldn’t know how to raise her to become a mother
Before teaching her to dwell into the Earth’s core
And survive carrying herself across open fields
Of misfortunes, misdirection of love by our plagued humanity
Over and over again.

I wouldn’t know what to teach her first
Because I am still teaching myself to unlearn
Playing small.


If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out Here’s To Hope

by Astrid Ferguson

Astrid is a poet, author of two anthologies Molt and The Serpent's Rattle, podcast host on I mean can we discuss podcast, co-founder of online can we discuss poetry book club and aspiring life coach. Her mission is to help women of Latinx diaspora find their voice and become confident storytellers.


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