You only respond
You stare. I touch
your silk. Shiver. Some nights,
you let in a kiss abruptly
through the mask. Pant.
Here, your bread,
sliced into neat warm ovals.
Whisper. It’s impossible. Is it
that you have nowhere
to go? No. Your family
loves you. But here you are
the only monster. The last
and first star: the one
in the clan who won’t stay put.
Tonight, you arrive;
you said you wouldn’t.
Here, a linen napkin;
we can't always afford it.
I do not always have
what you lope about
seeking. It isn’t so easy
to keep the harness buckled.
Be still. Only we know
how this works.
Copyright © 2022 by Tarfia Faizullah. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 16, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Who is the girl forced to kneel on dried chickpeas to atone for the sin of being alive?
In the dream blindfold and bandage are one.
My hands go numb as I carry dried chickpeas.
In my head there is a voice that says “naked forest” and
“a tiny photograph that is passed between hands in the dark.”
Why doesn’t the girl on the floor of the world talk?
Because she is a wound on the earth’s hide.
Do you understand?
Wound, not mouth.
From The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us From the Void (Nightboat Books, 2021) by Jackie Wang. Copyright © 2021 Jackie Wang. Used with the permission of Nightboat Books.
after a promise by Staceyann Chin
Because I don’t
have to anymore,
I pray for you
who never had to
what god might
damn that girl
to labor through
Who’s to say
instead of me?
Holy is what
between your belief
& what you do.
Holy is the savior
I was taught
was you. Blessed
be that parking lot—
its early, empty
be the ring of keys
who made her
rounds & kept
you feeling safe.
the woman I
& not have to
for this sleeping
child we chose
& what new mercies
time divulged: nurse
at your shoulder,
doctor at your
feet: then’s only,
that made this
Copyright © 2021 by Meg Day. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 16, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
In some other life, I can hear you
breathing: a pale sound like running
fingers through tangled hair. I dreamt
again of swimming in the quarry
& surfaced here when you called for me
in a voice only my sleeping self could
know. Now the dapple of the aspen
respires on the wall & the shades cut
its song a staff of light. Leave me—
that me—in bed with the woman
who said all the sounds for pleasure
were made with vowels I couldn’t
hear. Keep me instead with this small sun
that sips at the sky blue hem of our sheets
then dips & reappears: a drowsy penny
in the belt of Venus, your aureole nodding
slow & copper as it bobs against cotton
in cornflower or clay. What a waste
the groan of the mattress must be
when you backstroke into me & pull
the night up over our heads. Your eyes
are two moons I float beneath & my lungs
fill with a wet hum your hips return.
It’s Sunday—or so you say with both hands
on my chest—& hot breath is the only hymn
whose refrain we can recall. And then you
reach for me like I could’ve been another
man. You make me sing without a sound.
Copyright © 2019 by Meg Day. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.