Mantra of No Return

Kaie Kellough

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my mother occupies the passenger seat. my brother and i

                     stick in the back.

   the radio babbles and sings between us. she is estranged, returning

           and we are revenants to a place                 inside a narration contrived

to read like non-fiction, a continuous telling since                                 one

mouth inside another, one word emigrating from another's vowels.

        a paper place we've glossed              in novels, in atlases

             materialized into sweltering road                printed under us, the car

horns blasting past, the black faces that map ours for relevance, the faces that

could belong to our relatives                 faces we are instructed not to trust, into

whose night we are cautioned against venturing, whose have–not we must not

tempt. my mother banters with the river                             driver, her voice

angles into         accent, some words chop            others stretch. she ent

home, but her return bends

                  here, her speech                soaks into the air near the equator

Kaie Kellough, "people arrived" from Magnetic Equator. Copyright © 2019 by Kaie Kellough. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
Source: Magnetic Equator (McClelland & Stewart, 2019)