On Anger

My white therapist calls it my edge, I hear
Angry Black Woman. She says, Strength
of Willful Negative Focus. She says, Acerbic
Intellectual Temperament. I copy her words
onto an index card. She wants
an origin story, a stranger with his hand
inside me, or worse. I’m without
linear narrative and cannot sate her. We
perform rituals on her living room floor. I burn
letters brimming with resentments, watch
the paper ember in the fireplace, admit
I don’t want to let this go. What if anger,
my armor, is embedded in the marrow
of who I am. Who can I learn to be
without it? Wherever you go,
there you are. She asks what I will lose
if I surrender, I imagine a gutted fish,
silvery skin gleaming, emptied of itself—


Copyright © 2019 by Rage Hezekiah. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“For years I’ve devoted time in therapy to the task of unpacking my anger. Last summer before I left for a writing retreat, my therapist urged me to do some writing about letting go. Bringing this poem to life helped me better identify the fear of surrender and the ways my anger serves me. Poetry continues to be a healthy way for me to bring my anger to the page and I’m grateful for the healing power of this act.”
—Rage Hezekiah