February, I am an open wound—woman discarded
and woman emerging. Scars devising scars.
To live here we know precisely how to be haunted.
Sundown sun, a sterile sky come running,
sweet gallow-grass whistling; Ghosts.
All year we learn that chainsaw hymnal, outside the Lawn,
another excavation—slave quarters found concealed
in the student dorms; buried rooms choked, sounds
bricked off. Two centuries’ thorns may break sudden bloom.
What can we say? No one speaks of it. I dream pristine.
And skirting the caution-tape instead, we clasp hands
with each other in complicity.
Somewhere, the ghost-arm of history
still throttling me. This taste of old blood on the wind,
the crouched statue of Sacajawea shrouded behind the pioneers.
Creature of unbelonging, unname a new silence.
Magnolia explosion, its Leviathan shade.
Then fall, what sick messiah. Fall, I am coughing in
the aisles again, where bare triage of voices pour molasses in
my ear. Where a bald insurrection of tongues. Then
squashed rebellion, scrutiny. Indoctrination.
To live here we know precisely how to be hunted.
This poem will appear in Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair and are used by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Forthcoming fall 2016.