My Mother’s Shirt

Tiana Miinter-El

This November, 826DC is thrilled to publish our very first compendium: a collection of the best of the best from our first five years. To celebrate the release here on the blog we will be posting a weekly podcast consisting of selections from the book, read aloud by students, volunteers, staff, and other friends of 826DC. So find a comfy spot and get ready to listen, savor, and share the words of our most inspiring young authors. This project is made possible in part by support from AT&T Aspire.

You Will Be Able to Say a Thousand Words collects the best writing from 826DC’s first five years of running fun and unique writing-based programs. Spanning genres and styles, students ages 6-18 imagine dangers on the high seas, struggles with bullying, and mourn loved ones. From advice to their former selves to advice for the reader, students begin a journey that starts on the page and ends in the boundlessness of the imagination.

This week’s featured piece from the collection is “My Mother’s Shirt” by Tiana Miinter-El, first published in Dear Brain. Reading it for us is all-star 826DC volunteer Tara Campbell. She is the grateful recipient of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ (DCCAH) 2016 Larry Neal Writers’ Award in Adult Fiction, and the DCCAH 31st Mayor’s Arts Award for Outstanding New Artist.


yabp 6

My favorite shirt was handed down to me

From my mother dearest.

I was ten at the time.

She said it came from the year 1996.

From the moment I got it,

I felt everything my mother felt.

Like the time I was in her belly,

And she was wearing the shirt

To the supermarket,

So she could pick up our food.

I wonder what it was like for her

To try to stretch it over

Her pregnant belly, because

The size was a small

And thinking about her belly

Going into that shirt is a mystery.

I could feel me in that shirt,

And I wonder how is that possible.