At Harlem Hospital across the street from the Schomburg the only thing to eat is a Big Mac

after Z. S.

Still, somehow we are
carousel. We spin bodies
to the wall and back.

We are woman and
man and man. We
are surgeon and

operation. We are
everybody we love.
We are inside them.

We are inside and we
are laughing. We are
man and we will die too.

We know that much.
We are our own
shadow. We are want

of touch. We are woman
and man and man don’t look.
We are curvature—look!

We are train.
We are star.
We are big

tiny spiders. We are
crawling. We are biting.
We are hungry. We are

a stopped carousel. We are
bodies dropped to the floor.
We are shaking. We are our own.

Still, somehow, we are
laughter. We are the doorway out.
We are (again) the doorway in.


Copyright © 2017 by Samiya Bashir. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Here we are full-circle returned. I was researching in New York when Zachary Schomburg’s poem ‘The Carousel’ buzzed into my inbox. Schomburg is my neighbor, the first poet with whom I read after relocating to Portland, and I couldn’t escape the remix of that language into my own very different experience—in this Black body, in this particular moment—of the first person, of plurality, of the ‘We’ and its necessity for survival. I can hear the record scratch at the first line as it sings a shared American experience: while two poets may live in the same space, negotiate the same language—the same names even—the paths our bodies and minds must take diverge long before the day’s first breath.”
—Samiya Bashir