Before I get a chance to ask her,
my mother calls to tell me that she is
watching her speech,
the first woman Vice President,
her cerulean dress, the pearls,
the running shoes.
“Biden’s voice is so soft,”
my mother says, not knowing how
to describe Kamala’s,
her mouth ready to gulp poison
like a 21st century woman-Vishnu.
In Romania, strong women speak like men,
they speak in borrowed tones,
wear tired faces people call “ugly,”
and my mother feels uncomfortable
with this kind of language,
the way the words feel prickly
on her tongue and in her heart,
so she comments on Biden,
his gentle ways, his old age
which is a compliment,
his blue tie.
And I think about the day when
she lifted my suitcase onto the conveyor belt
at the airport, and with a flick of her wrist
she sent away some invisible dust off
my blue winter coat, and some evil spirit,
as she was sending me to America.
Before I get a chance to say
goodbye, “it’s the middle of the day here,
my boss is calling, I have to go,”
my mother whispers something
into the phone, I cannot hear,
but I know it’s a word of praise,
a monument, my name,
an adoration of the goddess,
of everything I have ever spoken,
of everything I have yet to say.
Roxana L. Cazan’s poems have been featured in Poets Reading the News, The Windsor Review, The Portland Review and others. She is the author of The Accident of Birth (2017) and the co-editor of Voices on the Move: An Anthology by and about Refugees (2020).
Photo by Elvert Barnes.