explain to your lover
how once the body was not made of magic, but of rot
prepare a lament, a soft cry for the girl you were on occasion
for the black girl you apologize for once being
the kind to only consume white men as a sort of cleanse
remind yourself of dusk, of slow attempts at whiskey
tell him where you store the remains
bring him the mold, the stories, the count,
the half-bit mouth of lonely, the thoughts, all of them
hide in your guilt and he will find you
he will make the past a true grim
the sickest form of night
and instead, ask of the ways you love him
and you will weep
as a house weeps
for every room you’ve been in and did not wish to stay
for your womb, oh your faulty womb
and the children you may not be able to have
lover, how you knew this
and still speak of our little ones
and the names they will bare
here, there is no past
for how i love you
for the bronx, how she built our gravity and our ground
for your eyes, they tell me your sadness and your joy
for your hands, honest and proud
for your mind, a wilderness of everything intelligent
for your heart, how it makes me better.
how depression becomes a silent lie
speak to me as the wind and i will hear you
i will run my fingers kindly through your hair,
as the river
love the sin out of me
hold me as the flood
let us camp somewhere far from here
for i have known my body to be a sewage,
but with you, i am learning it to be a well
i am learning how to love.
Tonya Ingram is a Cincinnati-born poet, writer, and spoken word artist. She is the winner of the 2012 New York Knicks Poetry Slam and co-founder of the NYU poetry slam team. Her work has been featured on websites such as Literary Bohemian, For Harriet, Cultural Weekly, Everyday Feminism, and others. Her first collection of poetry Growl and Snare, a “compilation of fear, faith, flesh, bone and blood”, can be purchased online from Penmanship Books. The above poem was republished with permission from the author.
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