it is the Fourth of July and I am sixteen years old.
earlier in the afternoon a woman captioned her selfie:
happy Fourth of July! this country is built off stolen lands and the
backs of black and brown bodies! enjoy your corn!
my first thought was that her magic must be worn.
sometimes I wish I wasn't so capable. that I
could be fragile as orange blossom.
instead I am all competence and weathered skin.
the poetry in me refuses to be passive. keeps me furnished with
a backbone that could bring
a caliphate to its calves. a chin that
listen. the ships are leaving and we always
were port children,
knew what sea salt was long
before we could pronounce it.
I write the wound:
we are more than the sum of the
thorns we got cut on. when I close my eyes
I dream of shipwrecks.
legs lean and inelegant, I
rewrite my kneecaps. skeleton built of
sestinas, veins clogged with
free verse, stomach full of prose, I
follow the rhythm to the letter.
(maybe someday I will teach myself to breathe better.)
we cram our freezers with bitter almonds. golden raisins.
my country remains the stubborn
coffee stain on my blue dress. another bombing.
I am tired. poetry reminds me that is allowed. I rhyme my way
back into resistance.
I try to smile without war between my
teeth and ask for the check.
nostalgia is one of the greatest
human weaknesses, second to the neck.
brown eyed girl.
here, you can take off the battle dress.
the sun sets differently around you, as if
suddenly it had someone to impress.
brown eyed girl, remember Persephone
was just a child who strayed too far from home.
remember the sky rises in revolt every morning.
you'll be dying.
the ink will run from you in search of asylum.
for when all the wind does is take, for when you start counting
all the ways a heart can break,
little girl, remember.
sugar does not
a poet make.
little girl, with the fire in her fingers and lips painted berry deep -