Poetry

This Poem Will Resist With Joy, Open Letters Monthly

Blueberry Poem

For Dorothy Lorena Davis

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Originally Published in PLUCK! Literary Journal

TO BEAR WITNESS

From MEND

Delia held my hand all through it

my nates splayed open

and like the butcher’s meat,

I belonged to that steel.

The doctor standing

in the triangle between like

he always was.

He is the air there

and he will separate the day from the night.

Then the pain

until I see the cow with no head.

I swear it was just as real as you and me;

it walked in this here room      hooves clicking,

a black soot hole for a neck.

And now, Delia squeezes my hand to the bone

like the cow is hers,

like it is her spine on the table,

her chattering un-intelligables

and writhing

all through it.
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Originally Published in PLUCK! Literary Journal

ELEGY FOR A STILLBORN
From Mend
“All of my children have died or wandered away.”-  Molly Ammonds, Alabama Slave Narratives

Here are the milk and songs
from my breast. Here is his cover
sewed from calico scrap and dyed
with peachtree.
Take it for nights when he is cold.
Here is the sheet I washed
in secret, to catch him
when he came. It was to give him
a clean start.
Take the old dresser drawer
I used for a cradle.

You will need pins
from the washwoman and this wrap from my hips—
You can carry him
against your back.
Take the knife
from under my bed
that they used to cut the pain.

I did not make a basket of medicine
I did not want to mark him sick,
But here is pine-top tea, and elderbrush
Here are mullen leaves for when he cuts teeth.
Here is his corn husk doll,
same as all the rest. And take
the place I prepared for him
near the fire,
the quilt folded in half then again
so he would rest
against something
soft. Take the room full
of times my hand crossed over my belly,
a prayer on my lips.
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TEETH

This body housed three women,
accommodated three sets of fists,
six eyes and three belly buttons.
It allowed iron bones and spines
to raise their way into existence.

This morning my right breast stretched
from my robe, touched my infant’s mouth,
bobbed like branches over a water
until her sharp fish mouth closed onto it—
her lips as imperceptible as a cat’s,
her lips as thin

I am grateful to this constellation
for healing itself again,
for sealing off blood, its vessels,
for scarring to create a second row of stars
to run my right fingers over, lighting them with heat
as they travel across