Ariana Brown

Minute Fathers

We are on a bus                    or in a grocery store    or some other public place you are not
             and yet I find you                in this wrinkled man                            and that one too
with coffee colored shoes     and cackling footsteps           I wonder if they have daughters
             I wonder           if I am making them uncomfortable    by staring        by wishing
so hard             I crack the glass of pedestrianship       will you tell me about love?
about the time you met my mother?                    did you always know?          will you laugh for me
           so I know how to find you again?                          what do I do when it hurts?
when everything is shock steaming me open and I only know how to run?          how do I stay
           and survive?

It's quiet here, in the guessing.

I don't know how to ask a stranger
to be a father for a minute.

So we will sit, or walk past each other
and I will let the questions freefall into politeness.

I keep their old coats, soap scents, and dark skin.
I will need this peace later, for a moment
when I am wondering what your chest feels like:
perhaps a plastic couch that smells like grandma's house.

More likely, a foreign man who knows something I don't know,
and smells of cologne and cocoa butter.  


ARIANA BROWN is an Afromexicana poet from San Antonio, Texas, with a B.A. in African Diaspora Studies and Mexican American Studies. She is the recipient of two Academy of American Poets Prizes and a 2014 national collegiate poetry slam champion. Ariana, who has been dubbed a "part-time curandera," can usually be found eating an avocado, listening to the Kumbia Kings, or validating black girl rage in all its miraculous forms. Find her work at and follow her on Twitter/Instagram @arianathepoet.