by Shirley A. Jones-Luke

My reflection is my father’s reflection      stunning in their similarities     pause, breathe   
Sometimes I can’t look at my face     memories     his dark chocolate visage     angry, yelling
my mother cowering     pause, breathe     My brother and I would be in the other room      stiff   
silent      We would breathe in unison     not too loudly      Father’s words would reverberate off
the walls of our 1st floor apartment     even the neighbors upstairs would be quiet when he yelled         
The silence was louder when father used his fists    pause, breathe     My mother only cried when
father left the apartment     She did not want to give him the satisfaction     of the pain he caused  
of the pain she felt     pause, breathe     Years later     my brother and I are adults with our own
families     Mother is dead     pause, breathe     Father is dead    Men are a violent lot     My
father     a violent man     undereducated     rural Southern Georgia town     denied opportunities
due to the color of his skin      My mother born in South Carolina     raised in Brooklyn     When
they met     both were seeking saviors     but only one could be saved     My mother told us       
do better than me     My father showed us     do better than him



Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet and writer. Ms. Luke lives in Boston, Mass. Shirley has an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. She’s also an artist, educator, and public speaker. Ms. Luke’s poems deal with culture, family, and society. Shirley participated in workshops at Breadloaf, Tin House, and VONA. She is an avid reader and book collector. Ms. Luke is currently working on a poetry collection.