Because It's Friday

Another one from Julianna Baggott

How It Begins

That Spring when my parents bodies were still pristine
and the sex so new that each time they were dazed,
grinning like kids holding sparklers in the dark--

can she recall that giving in, knees first,
the ground folding beneath her, how only then
she began to know fear, that it tallies up beat for beat

with love and the world can betray us because we finally
want something for it? For her it was the do-gooders
always claiming the most common things will kill us--

furnace pipes asbestos-wrapped, pesticide-sprayed grapes,
even tap water radiated. And she began to wash her hands,
trying to keep clean, to risk nothing; she became a genius.

inventing the patterned travel of germs, from hand to mouth
to vital organ and the lazy swirling ones that love to linger
in towels and sink drains, how detergent itself was lethal.

She scrubbed for us, each plate and spoon, her hands
cracked and bleeding; she boiled and boiled our meat.
I've decided it is a sweetness no one deserves, her love

for us grown too large, like the oversized heart ever-expanding
to compensate for one weak murmuring valve, 
and the weakness too is love, a constant falling.

From her book This Country of Mothers
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In