My boy came into the room and said, Mom, you are
the hound, Dad is the hunter, and I am the

but he couldn’t remember, so stood there, silent. I wanted
to know, but forgot how to speak, form my lips into

language, started to say dear or hart or morn—even though
I knew that was wrong, knew I was messing up words, but

nothing more came out. In the second part of the dream he tried again:
Mom, you are the deer, Dad is the hounds, and I am the hunt

but then stopped, shook his head, started over. No, you are the hunter,
Dad is the deer, and I am—
he stopped again. No, you are

the hounds and the hunter, I am the deer. Then he walked outside
into the woods, the world. In the third part of the dream he was

standing in the yard, his back to the house. It was dark. Too cold
to be naked in the night—he needs a blanket. He was

looking up, still. In the last part of the dream he looked back as if
I had called his name, but I couldn’t have—I had forgotten how

to speak, form my lips into language. He pointed up and I saw him
say, Mom, see it? Orion! How I wanted to know, see it all, but I

couldn’t get past his body—when had he lost his baby fat? Where
was my little boy’s body? In the fifth part of the dream he

flexed and cocked his muscles, agleam beneath the stars and said,
Mom, look, the Hunter! And he laughed and laughed and cried

and wept, falling to his knees in the cold dirt of a dark night.


Maurya Kerr is a bay area-based writer, educator, and artist. Maurya’s poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Blue River Review, River Heron Review, Inverted Syntax, Oyster River Pages, Chestnut Review, Mason Jar Press Journal, Harbor Review, and “The Future of Black: A Black Comics and Afrofuturism Anthology” (November, 2021). Beginning fall of 2021, Maurya will be a UC Berkeley ARC (Arts Research Center) Poetry & the Senses Fellow.

Maurya Kerr is the Honourable Mention Winner 2021 Vallum Chapbook Award for her chapbook tommy  noun.

tommy   noun. employs known systems of construction—grammar, dictionary, myth—as anchor to speak to the death of someone too young. What happens when sorrow deluges the capacity, and rules, of comprehension? This collection attempts to write itself into meaning and grace, in the voices of the mourning and the mourned, both human and animal. To quote Lucille Clifton, “When I get to where I’m going / I want the death of my children explained to me.”