"Distilled Black Grandmother Tears" by James B. Golden


Distilled Black Grandmother Tears

Two weeks into Winter Break
the exact week my licorice-tinted grandmother
sauntered through her bedroom door
open to her grandson in patent-leather pumps
perfectly church red     because
the Women’s Choir wore statements on
the mighty blood of Jesus     and winced
somewhere between entertainment and      terror
dressed her polyester skin     and he knew
even grandmothers startled     and he knew
his father would pace holes above      and he knew 

nothing would be simple again.

The same chill advisory that turned him loose in
December would confine his tomorrows endlessly
and he knew his grandmother
weeping while disinfecting the toilet
cleaned earlier that morning
had nothing to do with the hospital bleach
and her distilled tears rested silently in his attic
watering the snapdragons that marked
the memory

James B Golden.jpg

James B. Golden

James B. Golden is a Los Angeles-based author. His books include the 2012 NAACP Image Award winner, Afro Clouds & Nappy Rain, and the 2014 Jessie Redmon Fauset Award winner, BULL: The Journey of a Freedom Icon. Golden writes about the Black aesthetic tradition, gender equality, civil rights, and the LGBTQ community. He has performed, presented, and held writing workshops at some of the nation's most prestigious venues and universities, including Howard University, Pepperdine University, USC, and UCLA. His essays have appeared in The Root, Zócalo Public Square, and Vibe Magazine, among others. Golden mentors young writers regularly and has been active in curriculum reform in Los Angeles. He is the inaugural Poet Laureate for Salinas, CA.

Headshot: James B. Golden

Photo Credit: Staff