The meek inherit nothing.
God in his tattered coat
this morning, a quiet tongue
in my ear, begging for alms,
cold hands reaching up my skirt.
Little lamb, paupered flock,
bless my black tea with tears.
I have shorn your golden
fleece, worn vast spools
of white lace, glittering jacquard,
gilded fig leaves, jeweled dust
on my skin. Cornsilk hair
in my hems. I have milked
the stout beast of what you call America;
and wear your men across my chest
like furs. Stick-pin fox and snow
blue chinchilla: They too came
to nibble at my door,
the soft pink tangles I trap
them in. Dear watchers in the shadows,
dear thick-thighed fiends. At ease,
please. Tell the hounds who undress
me with their eyes—I have nothing
to hide. I will spread myself
wide. Here, a flash of muscle. Here,
some blood in the hunt. Now the center
of the world: my incandescent cunt.
All hail the dark blooms of amaryllis
and the wild pink Damascus,
my sweet Aphrodite unfolding
in the kink. All hail hot jasmine
in the night; thick syrup
in your mouth, forked dagger
on my tongue. Legions at my heel.
Here at the world’s red mecca,
kneel. Here Eden, here Bethlehem,
here in the cradle of Thebes,
a towering sphinx roams the garden,
her wet dawn devouring.
“Center of the World” first appeared in the December 2015 issue of Poetry. Subsequently published in Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press, 2016). Copyright © 2015 by Safiya Sinclair.