I was born into this world sideways.
surgery, to break my face
set it right again
as if breaking were simple.
Wet places my lips have been:
all the boys I've kissed—
so many caves I've licked
saliva & sweat
holy water on my tongue.
I grind my teeth at night
wake to white sand in my mouth:
nocturnal silt, gritty loam.
My jaws pop when I talk
but if I had the surgery, went cosmetic?
Oh, the typewriter in my bones—
yes, I would miss that click/clack the most.
Conversation with Phillis Wheatley #2
Tell me about your baptism she asked.
I rose out of the water, a caught fish—slippery,
gaping for breath, brand new with righteousness.
I walked down to the frothing whirlpool,
Pastor Lonnie—a white man in a white robe,
extended his hands and helped me down the steps.
The congregation watched as I answered his questions:
Yes. Yes. Yes. Jacuzzi-warm water gurgled and spun
as his white robe spread around my little circumference,
holy creamer. He put his hand on my nose, pinched
my breath. I did not close my eyes as he buried me
under the water—under the water I heard muffled
shouting, under the water I saw Pastor Lonnie's face
ripple in thirds. He tipped my body back, lifted me up
and out from the wet coffin to the defeaning resound
of clapping and yelling from the church. My hair back
to curls, my face like the face of my birth when I was
cut from my mother—terrified and ready to scream.