by Nicole Homer
“Here is your first question to the gods” -Aracelis Girmay
What now? Now that the babies are born and the car is paid off. Now that the dishes all match—a respectable but modest bone white set from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. What now god of 20% off? Now that you have made meatloaf and something decent of yourself. What now god of aprons and universities? Now that you lost the weight, got the blood pressure down, avoided heart disease—at least for now. What now god of multivitamins and webMD? Now that your daughter named you workasaurus on her list of imaginary dinosaurs. Now that your daughter named you absent in the family portrait she drew. What now god of stick figures and omissions? What now god of daughters? Now that you can maintain a somewhat manicured yard, keep a job long enough to make yourself difficult to fire. Now that no one debates you when you call yourself a grownass woman. Now that your momma calls on the phone to ask your opinion. What now god of vows and eventual divorces? Now that you get your nails done every two weeks and pay your bills two days early. Now that your credit score will let you finance the middle class dreams you have never had. Now that what I want is less. Is fewer. Is an uncluttered floor. What now god of bloody cuticles? What now god of a thousand disappointments? What now god of bad choices? What now god of the only tools I had? What now god of the only thing I knew how to build? Now that I’m in therapy. In yoga. In the gym at 6am Monday through Friday. What now god of alarm clocks and sunrises? Now that I sleep alone. Now that I sneak into my daughter’s room at night to whisper in her ear: choice, choice, choice. What now god of dead or ailing parents? Now that the kids are too young to understand and old enough to be okay, I guess. What now god of okay, I guess? Of Maybe? Of no right answers? Now that the curtains are in a pile on the floor and the wizard is just a woman with cellulite and a c-section scar and a degree and the machine’s cogs are showing. What now god of my one good enough body and my only life? Now that I’m here. What now god of here? God of now? God of this line of questioning? Now that I’ve named all my gods and seen how small they are. Now what?
Nicole Homer is a New Jersey based writer and educator. Her work can be found in the American Academy of Poets Poem-a-Day, The Offing, Winter Tangerine, Rattle, The Collagist and elsewhere. A fellow of The Watering Hole, Callaloo, and VONA, Nicole serves as an Editor and regular contributor at BlackNerdProblems, writing critique of media and pop culture. Their full-length collection, Pecking Order (Write Bloody), was an Eric Hoffer Poetry Award winner and Paterson Poetry Prize finalist. As the 2018 Dartmouth Poet-in-Residence at The Frost Place, she lived in Robert Frost’s Franconia home, drank coffee, and worked on her next project, Fast Tail. They received a 2020 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She can be found online as @realnicolehomer and at nicolehomer.com