our own names
okra, pickled just the way you like it,
in the jar on the top shelf. oranges
in the ochre clay bowl you made right there
on the counter. clove tea brewing stovetop
& there’s an orison that my mama
taught me, metronoming ’gainst my orbital
bones. orbiting around my occipital.
come through. let’s be each other’s oracles.
we can hold hands, craft a shrine in the gap
of our palms, in the ocean of our breaths
at the shore of our oil-shined flesh. listen:
this is my oath to you. i’m devoted
to you, the people, my folks, my kindred—
not to the state. & i belong with you—
not to the state. our love is ordained
by the Black ordinary & spectacle,
our wayward waymaking. we are the more
gathered together here in our own names
calling on otherwise. serenading
otherwheres. singing we already here—
Copyright © 2023 by Destiny Hemphill. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 24, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.