Family Gathering Poem by Romella Kitchens

Romella Kitchens

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Family Gathering



Liquor will be poured out at the table in
the back room of their aunt's home,
the funeral of our matriarch over.

Immaculate black suits on. Cologne. Expert
barbering.
Most of them had been pallbearers before
but not while in the middle of this much grief.

Now, they can conjecture about how much time
they have before their own deaths, with
tearstained faces and eyes and loosen their coal
colored ties, their chalk white collars.

They fear death comes to the door even for them the young.

Black men.
Societal targets.
All of them with a newness to them and
handsome then.
Long, tall as princes.

Clouds of cigarette smoke.
Quiet whispers about the pain of losing her.
Drink after drink.
Ponder after ponder.
Little refuge for anger.
It is a male place now, this back room.
Hysterical crying calmed in one by the others.
The hands that raised them, that voice that
sang them songs and did not disparage them
gone.

They must step out across the street of prejudice
without her prayers to protect them, without her.

Their food is plated and served to them.
They stay all night that way, talking memories as memorials, love for her, what hurts - at a
quaint cherry wood table safely older than any of them.

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Romella Kitchens

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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