Ohio is a long legged sister with kin i share eyes with.
Twelfth Street, a ribbon of brown faces peeping from
concrete porches. High laughs on cool June afternoons.
Kentucky frowns at black faces, pulls crying children from
mothers’ laps. She lays waste to the land. In Kentucky i
glide through dusty back roads, navigate Green River
trying to find out if home is lie or truth. Starlings call my
name but the state bird is a woman’s hanging breasts & the
knot that forms near her nipple; the state flower is hate
boiling rage in every pot; the constitution is 12 ways to
destroy every rainbow. Sometimes Ohio calls my name,
my father’s people all melded into the body of a beautiful
woman, her hips shimmying, her finger coaxing, Come on,
come here. But Kentucky, the tree-topped mountains; & Oh
she quiet—She doesn’t even have to speak a word—her
hips wide, her spine curved. She doesn’t even have to turn
around & i know i want her. There is familiarity in her
scars & bruises & in mine too. Maybe she’s frying fresh
sausage from the pigs she’s slaughtered—just for me—can-
ning blackberries for my biscuits. Even when she shrugs &
turns to slap my face, i know she’ll always be there, the
one i can count on to both hurt & heal.

Copyright © 2022 by Crystal Wilkinson. From Perfect Black (University Press of Kentucky Press, 2021). Used with the permission of the poet.