“[ ] of color is the white-tongue’s way to rip us of all the names our body’s wear” was selected for THE BODY poetry longlist.
I watch the several tall business men
Duck into the bathroom one after the other. Like shadow.
I am trying not to notice something, that in my noticing, will
take something from me. I am trying not to let this too,
take something from me. Men are so prideful and growing
Descendants by the day. I try not to become
Their descendants. Instead, I busy, Fathering myself—
The dusk girl born stall-wind. Swallowed by oak and pre-dawn
Sun tones (a light for the street becomes a light
in the throat of my lover — easy) The heart I factored
from my own palm, shakes into the arch. The fear begins to grow itself backwards.
And from my body, I fake a stack of twigs sharp enough
for a small willow. Each long-tongued branch of Blackness a softening.
I have spent so much
on this awful & beautiful life.
I have spent more than I’m willing
to share. How many memories go this way— My several fading
selves bent over, at the foot of This
forgotten kingdom asking: what am I? The undone codex of wars barrels atop
my skin and washes down my own desire to straddle queer to straight
/ passing Still the definite, the blood-pulse, pours
/ for her
/ for him
/ for them
& I have been ordered to wash these clues from my tongue.
Have been sent to arch bereavement
over bereavement at the site of god’s last remaining blood-stone And in this garden everyday grows
like a question I can’t control. the sidewalks I shuffled from misery to mercy
and at each grappling step of my wrist, the wit of my Lower back
so many of the wrong feasts flowered, Heavy —
my deep-turned wail shaped please onto my lips — the dear thing I call when I must make room for
the claim in
his touch | his touch | his touch Tended like this, all of my bodies grew —
Unwilling to become a place I can call
Bearable. Oh Lord, how dare you make me like this?
I have laid in the bed of witness where belonged My Solitude. My anger.
And instead have put my self across the track of White Subjectivity.
Person of Color always sounded to me like— “Look, I am wearing the wars of my people on my skin
you the wars of your own” Like melody and unity and sugar-shook off the rotting vine — until you remember
they were never our wars.
Erin Noehre is a second-year M.F.A.candidate at Arizona State University, where she is an Associate Editor at Hayden’s Ferry Review. She placed 1st in Poetry for the 57th annual Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Awards in Writing and her work can be found online at The Poetry Spot feature in AZCentral. She, like most poets, enjoys casting her worries up to the moon, dancing towards the brink, & being dangerously over-caffeinated at all times.
Artwork by: Mobola Odukoya