Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
The Chronicles (of a Violence Foretold)

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after Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I. 1977

because they do not want those niggers next door.
how the rocks our Midwestern neighbors hurl
through our windows just miss
breaking the small bones of my sisters’ bodies

all the many tiny pieces of glass
embedded into brown skin

the doctors have said
like our minister who came over yesterday
who would not sit on our couch
your kind is not welcome here
we will not treat you.

she used to be a nurse.
with her eyebrow tweezers
my mother pulls each shard out
one by one

they look like blooded diamonds.

II. 1994

father and I shopping
for my middle school graduation dress until
we are asked to leave the store
in Los Angeles, California
because our presence
is making the white people uncomfortable.

my sister putting my yellow
cheerleading pompoms on her head, swinging around
because she is not allowed to get a weave
and she wants to be pretty
with good hair
hair that will move.

father's hesitation,
then his heavily accented English always saying Here
when asked Where are you from?

III. 1984

the machine guns of the soldiers
who force themselves between my sisters
in the back seat of the car
father has rented at the Mbale airport
force my father to drive

all day
how they shoot
their guns
out the windows
laughing

afterwards none of us are allowed to visit home.

IV. 2014

my 17 month old son running
arms out to leap
onto my mother and hug,
every other weekend
during the year we live
at the domestic violence shelter.

V. 1930

my grandmother as a girl
kept home from school so she will not
be kidnapped, raped.

VI. 1976

the day Amin’s soldiers shoot up
my parent’s classroom
and they are spared.

in the afterwards. when
they shoot up my aunts, uncles.
when my mother and father get word
You are next.

the border crossing.
the American visa.
that precious thing
that rarest bird of all.

VII. 1988

the scar on my knee
from the white girl
in second grade who
calls me nigger and pushes
me off the swings.

VIII. 1985

my mother’s years of silence
between my older brother’s death
and my younger brother’s birth.

father’s silence, to her.

IX. 2011

the old woman I see on the bus
to school each morning
with mismatched brown and beige skin
from a lifetime’s use of lightening creams.

X. 2013

my sister, phoning her boyfriend
laughing that mine has said he will kill me
that my son and I have run
and she will call my ex
tell him where we are hiding.

the black eye
he has given her for their seven
year anniversary blooms
like a dead thing
on her brown skin.


Hope Wabuke is a writer, poet, and essayist. She is the author of the poetry collections Movement No.1: Trains and The Leaving. She is also an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


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