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Yona Harvey

Yona Harvey is the author of the poetry collections You Don’t Have To Go To Mars for Love (Four Way Books, 2020) and Hemming the Water (Four Way Books, 2013), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She contributed to Marvel’s World of Wakanda and co-authored with Ta-Nehisi Coates Black Panther and the Crew. She has worked with teenagers writing about mental health issues in collaboration with Creative Nonfiction magazine and received the inaugural Lucille Clifton Legacy Award in poetry from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Her website is yonaharvey.com.

By This Poet

8

The Subject of Retreat

Your black coat is a door
in the storm. The snow
we don’t mention
clings to your boots & powders
& puffs. & poof. Goes.
Dust of the fallen. Right here
at home. The ache
of someone gone-missing. Walk it off
like a misspoken word.
Mound of snow. Closed door.
I could open it.

Or maybe just, you know—
brush it off.

Then what? The snow
on the other side. The sound
of what I know & your, no, inside it.

Gingivitis, Notes on Fear

I hesitate invoking that
my daughter's mouth
not her first vanity
she tastes & smoothes
her chin this way & that,
bones replacing the fallen. 
it repairs itself: two
   forming new words:
      brushing past


What is the tongue-
between trauma &
Incident &


Think


There is so much to fear.


& now my second-born,


brush, he says,



doubled emptiness: open—
in the bathroom mirror—
but first blook inkling
with her tongue. She turns
anticipating her future: new
If the body survives,
pillars—wider, stronger
   adolescent declarations
      seasoned gums


span
terror?
accident?


on these things.


How will we fear it all?


my son:          If I don't


a disease will attack my gums.
 

 

Hurricane

Four tickets left, I let her go—
Firstborn into a hurricane.

I thought she escaped
The floodwaters. No—but her

Head is empty of the drowned
For now—though she took

Her first breath below sea level.
Ahhh       awe       &       aw
Mama, let me go—she speaks

What every smart child knows—
To get grown you unlatch

Your hands from the grown
& up & up & up & up
She turns—latched in the seat

Of a hurricane. You let
Your girl what? You let

Your girl what?
I did so she do I did
so she do so—

Girl, you can ride
A hurricane & she do
& she do & she do & she do

She do make my river
An ocean. Memorial,
Baptist, Protestant birth—my girl

Walked away from a hurricane.
& she do & she do & she do & she do
She do take my hand a while longer.

The haunts in my pocket
I’ll keep to a hum: Katrina was
a woman I knew. When you were

an infant she rained on you & she

do & she do & she do & she do