A poem by US National Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson.
i woke up and the day caught me
in its mouth like a strand of yarn
i am useful
the motivation for a scarf, maybe
some stitch started to be finished
i will make up someone’s
heat i will be a fire
so intricate it can be worn
i woke up and the day called on me
specifically, threw my name through the sky
the way children are thought up
trials pulled through the stars
i woke up and like anyone who wakes
and asks why i checked my feet,
rubbed the bones for their reality
i keep waking though i’ve asked for rest
cornered the moon in the alley,
pawned the dark to assume its place
and still i return to that burning chin
honour that persistent candle
because who will wake up if not me?
who will the day catch then
if i am not the centre of its tongue?
what of the women who keep waking?
what of my mother, who has asked for rest, too?
and her mother, tucked into an endless slumber
i woke up and the day thanked me
for coming so far. i know rest is a long
walk from the sun, i know we’ve been up
for so long, that sleep doesn’t settle
for my blood. me, daughter of the rooster’s song
but when the day calls i will answer to my name
claim it like a fire rushing toward living things
i will rise because there is someone praying
for me to remain still
Kara Jackson appeared at the 2020 New Zealand Festival of the Arts, running from 21 February to 15 March. The full Writers programme is available here.
The Friday Poem is edited by Ashleigh Young. Submissions are welcome at email@example.com