Us | Carla Cherry

Image by Tembinkosi Sikupela

One of the nurses was surprised to see me.
You’re walking around?
God Bless you!

Sat with my son in the rocking chair.
Caressed his skin, his fists, his feet.
Searched for,
and found, me,
in the curve of his eyes.

His pale skin had undertones of yellow,
like the inside of a chestnut.
Surveyed the beds of his fingernails,
to guess how brown he would become–
a dark cashew.

Could not afford the naming ceremony
with family and friends I wanted.
In that rocking chair,
in the crook of my left arm,
with no one paying us attention,
I whispered his name in his right ear three times:

Kwabena: Son born on a Tuesday
Khari: kingly
Ngozi: blessing

Knowing his first name would be mangled by many tongues,
I chose his second name to be first on the birth certificate.

Sang him Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”
until he fell asleep.


Carla M. Cherry (she/her) is a native of the Bronx, NY and a veteran English teacher. Her poetry has appeared in various publications, including Anderbo, Eunoia Review, Dissident Voice, Random Sample Review, Firefly Magazine, Picaroon Poetry, Streetlight Press, MemoryHouse, Bop Dead City, Ariel Chart, Anti-Heroin Chic, and The Racket. She has published four books of poetry through Wasteland Press: Gnat Feathers and Butterfly Wings (2008), Thirty Dollars and a Bowl of Soup (2017), Honeysuckle Me (2017), and These Pearls Are Real (2018). Her fifth and latest book, Stardust and Skin (2020), was published by iiPublishing. She is an M.F.A. candidate in Creative Writing at the City College of New York.

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