Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

Mama said Nothing Good

Mama said Nothing Good

Photograph via Flickr by Jill Clardy

would come from bad beans: the shriveled and darkened ones
that she culled from what would be our dinner. Still, I planted
them in a shallow caldron of dirt, not caring if the soil raised them

upright. Mama said I’d amount to nothing if I didn’t start caring
how things look. She said that we’re born bad, unable to rinse
the dirt from our blood—that not looking bad is all we got.

When those beans sprouted white-green curls—the hair of mermaids
drowning in the dirt, I took it as proof that what is bad is just
something good appearing where it shouldn’t. I figured that

it would take the power of Moses for these struggling creatures to part
the red clay, swim on down to a good sea. Mama predicted that
they’d choke, that this is how something bad takes care of nothing good.