Natalie Sharp

poem in which black girl builds a house


My softness is more      than vapor.         Know my body                as other

than flood           or foundation, feel         my scalp for          the fresh skin

taste my teeth                 else than shark       or serpent.                   I know

the favors love does            before      sunup                      how palms press

me        all the blood        between the lines.      I refuse                 to chain

myself   to the bleak    history         of my one sure inheritance.      I move

a letter or two                                  and all my matriarchs                 know

their daughters’ returnings, every birth      certificate unburned.     This is

the only magic             I can fully believe in:                       brown to brown

coaxing    paroxysm    from the round     of          the night’s    wet   mouth.

wifey material


I smile at you flip the cubed steak I drove 45 minutes just to make you and your boys and sad to say

this  is  far  from  the  last  meal  I  will  make  trying  to  feed fools into loving me years later I slice

cream  cheese  in  the  pan  of  broken  eggs  I’m  frying  me and my new partner even though cream

cheese  nauseates  me  the  first  boyfriend  to  hold  my  hand  in  public makes me dinner and I am

suspicious      I don’t even have to do the dishes after in my last year of belief that I am straight I fall

into depression so deep I let fruit flies litter all the teacups in my sink don’t I deserve  I think to make

food in this filthy kitchen he shows up loads the dishwasher and I am     suspicious    to this day I have

made meats and pies and breads holding hot pans til someone  smells  my  sizzling  flesh  and aren’t

you hungry don’t you want to know the recipe 
this meal is two parts starving one 
part blood

I know with some certainty the bruises


I know with some certainty the bruises
on my knees. I imagine someone else 


traversing the voluntary violence from brown
to purple-green. I suppose I wanted you


to hurt me—fleshly reminder of all the pleasures 
I let you conceal in my skin.


I wonder whether she walls her eyes
when she looks at you like I do,


if her life is punctured by punishment
for what understanding touch avails.


Natalie Sharp is a Black queer writer, dancer, and activist based in Denver, CO. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Natalie was a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee and a 2017 Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellow in poetry. She was also a finalist for the 2017 Frontier Poetry Award for New Poets and recently represented Denver Mercury at the Women of the World Poetry Slam. You can find more of her work online at Puerto del Sol, Juked, and elsewhere.

Follow Natalie on Instagram @short_sharp_shock.

                                                                                         (photo credit Andrea Schumacher)


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