Visitation in Carolina

Ama Codjoe

I smell his mother on him, the milk
coming down. She chooses to appear this way,
pregnant, dizzy, certain of his name.

We have yet to be naked together, to shed
clothes or tears or human speech, so his mother
comes, a dress over him, a caul. Her dark

hair is a lampshade; the light inscribes
a moon at her feet. Each man who has ever
been inside you, she says, was first inside

his mother. Then she bears her breasts
like a young boy might: without shame, pride,
or sentiment, like a collarbone or a faded scar.

She chooses to remain this way: half-dressed,
drenched in radiance—as pregnant women
often are—hair thick with the son whose name

I find myself repeating. Then she asks me
to read to her, and though there’s light, it’s not
enough to read by. She is the light there is.

Morning, I say. She smiles faintly. By then
it will be too late. He resembles a dolphin sounding
as she places my hand under hers. He circles

my nipple with his tongue—she is flickering
now, exhausted. Helplessly, my eyes
flutter close. I try my best to watch her go.

Last updated August 19, 2022