Two Poems by Samantha Thornhill

22 December, 2023

The Animated Universe is the work of a seasoned poet who has traveled the world honing her craft and, in the process, settling into the assurance and confidence in her voice. These poems reflect her movement, but above all they speak to her core belief in the power of empathy and compassion as aesthetic markers. In “signs” she writes, “Everywhere I go/ I see the people I love in the faces of strangers.” Her poems range across three modes of seeing: the ode that reveals her penchant for finding beauty in the unusual, in the ordinary and in the disquieting things of the world; her legends, which are the mythologizing of daily life that only great calypsonians and natural storytellers are able to achieve; and finally, her lyric disrobing of her heart, her soul and her body — a sacrifice she makes with heart because of her strong conviction that the sharing of self is a healing quality of poetry.


Samantha Thornhill



The Animated Universe is published by Peeple Press.


for V. June


Protective by default,
affectionate by design,
apron, you
are my mother:
sweet bread baking,
blue veins racing
down beige expanse,
dotted with delicious
splatter and spill.

My mother wore
you well and washed
you plenty.
Fresh from school, you
greeted my gaze
before her
smile could
reach me.

Homegirl, would
my body in yours
make us a collective
wet dream for chauvinists?

One birthday when
I cooked for friends,
you hugged
my voluptuousness.
Not sure the culprit
to peep our groove
and box me domestic,
but peep this:
you haven’t tasted
heaven or smelled
heat since.

Trapped with smears
of lemon meringue
and all of spring,
you now dangle
in the spare closet.

Apron, say you
are my lover, now.
Without you, my
threads destine
toward ruin;
with you, I personify
my fears in first
person: me,
barefoot, birthing
a census; you, homeland
security stretching
across all
my brown biscuits.

Like Hikmet the poet
you echo verses
through the walls
of your prison,
recipes on living.
Today, I decide
to bust you out –      .

brass knob
groaning inside grip.
On your lonely
hook you sway, as in
the hips of time:
last song prom
before the lights
fall on
punch drunk
two step
slow dance,
the closet
door a grandfather
clock in my hands.

Patient tendril
in this swinging vine
life of mine,
you survive the winters
of my neglect
to teach me
to stretch my love
across seasons
and diversities
of curvature.

Time to make stale
the good fight. Come.
Wrap your tongues
around my waist, darling,
and tie them tight.


Will I ever stop having
these dreams, Mama, or
will these dreams stop
having me tossing
and turning? When
I grow up, can I
touch the thermostat
on my dreams?
I want to dream myself
to warm places where
I can dance in someone
else’s shoes and bleed
someone else’s blood.
Cause my whole class
laughed at me on career
day, Mama, when I said
I wanted to be a child
when I growed up
so I can go back
to when clouds
looked like cotton candy,
(before ugly mushrooms),
and when we used to call
bras boob holders
and tit slings
and that was all right, Mama.
When Daddy used to snore
holes in the wall,
remember that, Mama?
When Daddy lived with us
and not on my Christmas list
and your shit list, remember
that Mama? I mean
did he have to go
away to that glass place?
Can you forgive Daddy
as skin forgives bruises,
Mama? Why you be
telling me to grow up
then say I’m too young
to understand? I mean,
can I ask the question
I been fixing my lips to;
can I go visit Daddy
again in that glass house,
Mama please? Do I have
to grow up? I don’t want to.
Cause you always
say that what grows up
must calm down.

Samantha Thornhill is a globally-travelled poet, educator and children’s author from the twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. After graduating with an MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia, Samantha served for a decade as poetry professor at The Juilliard School in New York City. The author of almost a dozen children’s books, The Animated Universe is her first poetry collection.

American poetBlack poetCaribbean poet

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