To Digest


To digest your story:

the ten years spent behind bars,

the brief release before the street sweep

rotation of being dragged back in.

Between childhood and prison, learning

the garden biology of fatherhood:

seeds spilled and spent on a girl at fifteen,

& then another as a young man,

& then another.

In four years you’d call them all

your babymamas, one of them more

hated than the rest.

Tell me,

what did this make me aside from a

good listener?

Who was I but another woman waiting

to be put on your shelf?

Next in line,

my days entangled in your messy

schedule of women and children,

my body inseminated and discarded.

I always imagined myself the

“strong-woman-don’t-need-no-man” type.

Bake an entire universe in a pie tin

and add the sugary sweet crumble of

loveless disappointment on top.

Isn’t that what it means to be loved

for people like us?

But I wanted you,

whether it was to eat your stories

or listen to your body next to mine;

another traveler in the world, born in

the same city four years apart.

Another broken passenger looking for

a getaway driver to take her out

for one last ride through town.

That you could see through my façade:

hiding under a blanket, camouflaged in

a room painted white,

wielding a metal blade.

That you could recognize my

history of cuts, see the bruise that I

got last week in the kitchen preparing

spaghetti mac & cheese for my kids

while the washing machine ran in the


That you showed up to my house in

Crocs. That you shop at Costco like a

regular-ass nigga with a criminal

record; a regular ass homeowner with

a fear of leaving his children with

generational debt made me want you

even more.

There is a country that lies just below

the surface of your words that I want to

return to. A region that I recognize as

a former citizen.

A small southern town where the women

share my great-grandmother’s name and

all the men own guns for hunting &

self-defense. We understand that

between conceal & carry and

the Second Amendment is

the zip code where every single

black person west of the Mississippi

has raised their children since arriving

to the shipyards in 1941.

Fireflies caught in a jar,

a hundred witnesses at a sideshow,

the lights of the city before &

after the shooting,

there is nothing more brighter

than your eyes and dreams, my dear.

And so I away with you,

even before I have time to

finish the last bite on my plate.

I put down my fork and

abscond with you,

even before I can digest

the meal we so ravenously &


just ate.

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