waiting on you to die so i can be myself

a thousand years of daughters, then me.
what else could i have learned to be?

girl after girl after giving herself to herself
one long ring-shout name, monarchy of copper 

& coal shoulders. the body too is a garment.
i learn this best from the snake angulating 

out of her pork-rind dress. i crawl out of myself 
into myself, take refuge where i flee. 

once, i snatched my heart out like a track 
& found not a heart, but two girls forever 

playing slide on a porch in my chest.
who knows how they keep count

they could be a single girl doubled 
& joined at the hands. i’m stalling.

i want to say something without saying it 
but there’s no time. i’m waiting for a few folks 

i love dearly to die so i can be myself.
please don’t make me say who. 

bitch, the garments i’d buy if my baby
wasn’t alive. if they woke up at their wake 

they might not recognize that woman
in the front making all that noise.

Copyright © 2017 by Danez Smith. This poem was first printed in Los Angeles Review of Books, No. 15 (Summer 2017). Used with the permission of the author.