Poem of the Week: The House by Tommye Blount

I. Willi Ninja, Mother of the House of Ninja
(1961—2006)

Bitch, give me a body
and I will show you how it works.

Break it down
like the math of my hands—

have you seen my hands?—
first, a blade, then a compact,

now, a mirror. What you see
is a legend on the map.

One day I will show you the world
is one big ass ball—

a house run by mothers.
II. Transit of Venus, Daughter in the House of Xtravaganza
( —1988)

I made me a sister out of this body.
I am my own mother now. There are two
of us in this one body—petite enough to fit

in any man’s hands. Small
enough to run through them like our steady
rain of blond hair. We want the door-less
tower—the white body of the white girl

trapped in our mind. This body still
a tenement building towering over
nothing. They say in twenty years

you can see Venus in broad daylight
as a small speck, a mole on the face of a
big star. We’ve never wanted to be a

big star. Just give us a house, the picket
fence, the yellow square of butter melting
on her husband’s toast. We’ll be there flattening

a red and white checkered apron
like a road map across the lap.
III. Tommye, Son Outside of the House
(1979— )

Outside the house, I lift one hand
to my heart, over the inside coat pocket,

to make sure she is still there—
the little doll. But it isn’t just any doll,

but my cousin’s Hawaiian Fun Barbie. I am eight.
A boy. And I should know better. It’s

a big house, she’ll be looking for days.
I got caught once before—cross-legged

on my cousin’s bedroom floor, my tongue jutting out
like a pink ribbon. When no one was looking

I braided the doll’s head the way I saw
my sister braid her hair. It was my father,

my mother long gone, who yanked me up
in one heave by the arm, in the way

boys should handle dolls, in the way fathers
should not handle daughters.

**Originally published in Vinyl Poetry**

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