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.
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)