Violence Is My Country’s Boyfriend
the most tender i’ve felt toward grief
a bird screams out of my window & i end where i begin. what's ill-fitting has undertow. a fish of
my own desires. i am doing an investigation on home. i am told by mother the days are slow to
pass, so i chew the wind and soil my sleeves. in all of this, there are too many names to unhear.
i am restless and that is the worst part. there is too much to say for this body built for sacrifice. my
father's guilt wears me like a purse as unkempt as my lover's heart. i am having trouble
remembering my sister's face. in my earliest memory, a boy loses grasp on a branch falling not too
far from his mother's tired fat. i know regret better than anyone. every child singing winter with a
red sweet tongue is my typecast. my body responds to touch, jiggles at the suggestion of loss. i
study my grandmother's body. my grandmother who could not wait for me to grab the white edge
of where she was going. i have been canceled & candled by solitude. the solitude of litanies without
their tensile tenure. somewhere south on king's avenue, i once kissed a girl & she flinched &
sobbed as though she had just lost something forever inside me. a woman i know is laid out today.
her face so full of wonder & uncomplicated dreams.
translation book for a child between countries
instead of having to say i’m falling apart because grief is easier to rename, i spend my night awake
& press my back to the dark damp wood of my bed. there’d been black birds flitting above the
crosshatched grass & a howl here so strong it shakes the pawpaw tree. i’m filled with the need to
stay & i choose to stay this time for once with all my deep sins. the world tells me, i am a tree. i
live in a spot on a train’s track that leads to nowhere. i touch myself— & at the next stop, i meet a
girl who wears a stain— the stain on rubble like scarves around her neck. living can be an act of
loss. i don’t know how to define mercy. my mother is a map of holes dressed in hooded vestment.
my father is questioned for marriage fraud. my uncle dies from self-harm in a detention centre. my
sister is a false minor— she wears white & became a shadow. my brother is a bird we return to the
sky as smoke. it’s funny being here & a memory of motion. i'm no one’s daughter— a child with
a hole in her throat. how did i get here? & in my hands, a whisper— war. what every child knows
but rarely discusses. violence is my country’s boyfriend. nothing else cuts the air quite like this movie
of blood blinking lively like popcorns along its numb scar. what leaves you half dead? what strips
the precluded fascination with flowers? what paints you in colors with the blunt edge of a practiced
tongue until gray appears on your earlobes like stoned cattle? i’ve lost track of the times i have
hoped for something so simple & sweet to sip: jawbreakers. i confess i am a double-ended wick &
i carried it for justice & the wind.