I eat Grandma’s flowers. The red spill of rose petals,
the oxalis flower dubbed bread and cheese.
I catch lizards, cut their tails off with a mud-stained
cutlass in the backyard. I want to know if it is true,
will their tails grow back?
And inside the house, Grandma slashes
at Mom: she has not put enough grease in my hair.
Their voices lock, grate against each other
in the somnolent afternoon air: You always…
pursued by, if you weren’t grown,
I would lash your mouth.
Fear burrows into my tummy,
I pull my knees towards my chin.
I betrayed Mom; nodded when Grandma said,
your mother ca’ comb your hair,
sat quietly between her knees, as she sloshed
African Pride in my scalp. Accepted the red
lollipop after. Last week they fought over
the cake and cola Grandma fed me.
I hear Grandma spring up from her chair,
her feet pound the cement floor.
Hand on her waist, she threatens with her finger.
Mom pulls herself to her full height, says, she’s my child.
I crush the petals of a hibiscus with a stone,
The door slams, Mom yells my name, a sharp
stone tearing at whatever softness is left between them.