My mother is a tall woman, 5’10 to be exact, and when I was a preschooler, she wore these long skirts that reached her ankles. When she danced and spun, her skirt opened like a parasol and what better place to go, but under. Shielded from all others, squat like a pebble under a teacup, I rubbed her ankles, practiced counting on her toes, rested my head against her knees and mumbled make-believes into the stony ridge of her leg. Her skin dewy from my whispers, and when she walked away to mind the temperature on the rice or nurse my younger brother, I missed the containment of her skirt, its darkness, the smell of her coco butter skin faded quickly, and I felt the chill of her absence. Returned to the world of the larger apartment, I fell silent, too shy for expression. As I grew, too big to retreat in her skirts, the closet became a suitable alternative. There was that comforting quiet, there were the familiar softness of her skirts, hanging there the hems brushed against my cheek, the cuffs of things supported the back of my head; I wrote in the bar of light that shone through the door, slightly ajar. The stories then were mostly of television characters who were now in my reality: walking to school with me, double-dutching in Fulton Park till the streetlights came on; gossiping about who wanted to hook up with Miguel or Vernon. I practiced sounding older, sophisticated in my language by using S.A.T words, and soon the prose became poems, dense in metaphors of loss, of retreat, of wanting home a place where mom didn’t argue with boyfriends and we didn’t run off to shelters that didn’t have enough closet space to fit our suitcases, let alone my adolescent, lanky body. In my young womanhood, I found serenity in places near or in moving things. It was how I translated seeing my mother chase after my younger brother and sister when she was in a skirt. The cloth caught by the wind, billowed. The denim or cotton cleaved between her legs, billowed out again—a breathing movement that held my body in meditative hush. Like a sail over the park grass, there was a freedom in her that was inspiring, that I wanted present in my poetry. Now, riding on the train, with a hood on my head, I sync into the steady movement of pen across paper—my toddler’s voice again, alive with an imagination unfettered by what a good poem should be. And with my head down low, I see people for their hems and sleeves, articles rise and sit; stand and jostle with the train. I’m in the rigor of writing: the nervous habit of massaging coco butter balm onto my lips helps the muse stay close, and before I know it, the train reaches its final stop.