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Monica Hand

Monica Hand is the author of The DiVida Poems (Alice James Books, 2018) and me and Nina (Alice James Books, 2012), winner of the 2010 Kinereth Gensler Award. After a thirty-two-year career with the U.S. Postal Service, she received an MA in poetry and translation from Drew University in 2011. In 2012 she moved to Columbia, Missouri, to pursue a PhD at the University of Missouri. Hand received a fellowship from Cave Canem and served as a founding member of the poetry collective Poets for Ayiti. She passed away on December 15, 2016, in Columbia, Missouri. 

Monica Hand
Photo credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

By This Poet

3

From the language of ash

The translator undresses. Tries on the shape of the work she translates. Stuffs her new belly with his engorged sex. Tries not to re-write his words tries to give her self over to his syntax. In the end, she wears her same nakedness.

volcano spews ash
thick clouds that touch the heavens
cover her body

transient—passing by or away from one place to another.

her thick fingers
trees damaged by a hard storm
downed power lines

rendering something written or spoken in different but equivalent form or state to a different place, office, or sphere by which information in messenger RNA directs the sequence

from the language of ash: the women in her family are beautiful and alone.

yellow park flower
its petals its leaves
brown

Things that stink

Drunks
their breath their sweat
especially when they are lying on top of you
or when they have fallen off of you and you are listening to them snore and fart
when they are your father stumbling up the stairs or passed out on the sofa
in all his clothes smelling of cigarettes vomit and stale women’s cologne
when he is smacking your mother around and you can smell her near
you are supposed to be sleeping
when they sit next to you on the subway
when they yell “hey baby” as you are walking to school
when they are happy dancing with their pants falling off
slobbering on your neck playing cards talking shit
just mean

when they are lilies at a funeral

bed sheets the day after when the dark has removed its mask

The Spirituals speak

With their many tongues, we were the one language
       they could each speak
Even the masters understood underneath hump and hale,
       labor of the load
We healed the numbing made

Even when she abandoned us for the music of bars and sex,
       you could hear
Spirit in her sway, watch her feet remember stomping
Her body ring shouts

We made her we un-troubled the waters became her balm in Gilead
A deep down light in her darkest days we a band of angels
Come to take her home