Call Your Mother

Call Your Mother

By Anna Limontas-Salisbury

(For my mother, Evalena, and yours)



Call your mother


Call your mother because she loves you


Call your mother because she loves you

With an unguided love


A love you sought in her milk, smile and hum

A love you soon recognized

From the vent of her voice

To the ring of her laughter

Reaching ever for her scent whether

Splashed from a fancy bottle or her sweat

A love too soon

Tight around the collar

An embarrassing love

A “Don’t call my government name in these streets”

Kind of love

An “Oh mama!” love


Call your mother whether

She is fly or furious

Free or detained


Call your mother

Even if she don’t like

Where you live

How you live

And with whom you live


Call your mother to let her know, you’re alright

Even if according to her

No girl should be out past midnight

Even if you a girl damn near 50


Call your mother because the unthinkable

Is already gospel in her head

You are already drunk, drowned

You are already strung out, stripped

You are already robbed, raped

Ditched by the road

You are already lashed, lynched

You are already a gone girl

As gone as a gone girl can get

Laying with eyes turned up to glory


Call your mother because

She has seen it all

Like that time

She wouldn’t let you take your bike

Back to the city because

She remembered

That biker who arrived in the ER

With the bike through him


Call your mother

Even if she doesn’t understand

An equilateral equation

The Partition of India

Parliament Funkadelic

Faust, Faulkner, Frost

Baldwin or bell hooks

Black girls who rock

Black girls who riot, rampage

They, Them pronouns


Call your mother

Even if you don’t understand

Why she still dig The Rolling Stones

Her “Fight the Power” street shake

Her “Follow Me” House Music stomp

Her praise Jesus Sundays

Her sarong and head wrap Mondays

Her artsy, poetic crowd

Her “free to be me”

Her need to picket

Her need to protest

Her need to chat with every stranger she meets


Call your mother

Even if you don’t like

Where she lives

How she lives

With whom she lives


Call your mother

Listen to her tell that same story

She told you last week


Call your mother even when you have nothing new to say

Your breathing says it all, your sigh over the mundane

The nothingness of your life is soothing to her

School is fine

Work is fine

The kids are fine

I’m fine

It’s fine

Everything is fine


Call your mother

Allow her to hear

The crack of vulnerability in your voice


Call your mother because she needs to know you are ok

Even when you tell her you are

She knows when you are hungry, heart broken


Call your mother because even if she can’t fix it

Her hearing is a balm

She rubs salve over you in prayers


Call your mother

Even if she doesn’t

Understand that thing you do

That prize or accolade you won

Or were passed over for, again

She was, is, already proud of you


Call your mother

And forgive her

For she know not what she do


Call your mother

For her body

Showered and sheltered you


Call your mother because when

She is a gone girl

As gone as a gone girl can get

Her memory has left its fingerprints all over you

Call your mother

Not because you love her

But because she loves you


Call your mother

Call your mother

Call your mother


Anna Limontas-SalisburyAnna Limontas-Salisbury is an educator, journalist, poet, writer, currently based in Harlem. She is a mother and Grand Diva to granddaughter, Brook-Lynn. Her publications include Women’s eNews, Emotive Fruition, Mom Egg Review, Roots. Wounds. Words. Writers Workshop, and COUNTERpult Reading Series. Most recently, she was the featured poet at Camperdown, a poetry series at Halyards in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She is grateful to Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon, Women Writers of Color, and Sweet Action Poetry Collective for keeping her writing chops alive and kicking.