There's a way a woman will not relinquish her pocketbook even pulled onstage, or called up to the pulpit— there's a way only your Auntie can make it taste right— rice & gravy is a meal if my late Great Aunt Toota makes it— Aunts cook like there's no tomorrow & they're right. Too hot is how my Aunt Tuddie peppers everything, her name given by my father, four, seeing her smiling in her crib. There's a barrel full of rainwater beside the house that my infant father will fall into, trying to see himself—the bottom— & there's his sister Margie yanking him out by his hair grown long as superstition. Never mind the flyswatter they chase you round the house & into the yard with ready to whup the daylights out of you— that's only a threat— Aunties will fix you potato salad & save you some. Godmothers, godsends, Aunts smoke like it's going out of style— & it is— make even gold teeth look right, shining. saying I'll be John, with a sigh. Make way out of no way— keep they key to the scale that weighed the cotton, the cane we raised more than our share of— If not them, then who will win heaven? holding tight to their pocketbooks at the pearly gates just in case.
“Aunties” from DEAR DARKNESS: POEMS by Kevin Young, copyright © 2008 by Kevin Young.
Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
All rights reserved.
Kevin Young (1970- ) is the author of nine collections of poetry, including Book of Hours (Knopf Doubleday, 2015). In March 2017, Young was named poetry editor of The New Yorker.