This Poem Will Resist With Joy, Open Letters Monthly March 2017


 for my daughters

A bus drove through my dream, straight into the Atlantic
bus heels spun in sea floor
the undertow’s suck and pull
the waves lap laughing at wheels and rusted rims
salt waves swallowing       salt waves
You came
by way of pink road     by way
of azalea blossom stain
seeped from the cave mouth within
So suddenly, you were here
hatched and shivering
eyes sealed shut in the passion
of arias,
Red-faced and finger-splayed
like all the rest
but mine
They held you up like bottles of wine,
pressed your cheeks against my lips
then whisked you off to cut our cords,
to cut my mermaid tale
and yours,
cut our way back to the sea
where we began, you and me


Originally Published in PLUCK! Literary Journal




Delia held my hand all through it:
my nates splayed open like the butcher’s meat

Like I belonged to that steel

The doctor still
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 unintelligables
and writhing
all through it.

Originally Published in PLUCK! Literary Journal

From Mend
“All of my children have died or wandered away.”-  Molly Ammonds, Alabama Slave Narratives Vol. 1

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.


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