"the daughter," "I HAVE ONE SMALL GLASS AND A LIMITED REGISTER," and "are you afraid of the dark, girls?"

the daughter

after the Philando Castile shooting on 7/7/16

It was spooky—the dead speaking to us that way, as if nothing stops, ever. Every world continues,
every voice. It's just happenstance, or luck, that we hear it.
                                                                                                 –Marianne Boruch

 

It’s okay, mommy. I’m right here with you,
I say, but I’m not there anymore. I’ve grown
My fingernails long enough to scratch and
 

Pick at every hair in my head. you say
He’s dead. he died inside the car with you
And I—didn’t hear him moving around the
 

Apartment last night—don’t own a gun.
You say he was a good man. he wouldn’t like
My pulling out my eyelash, eyebrow, arm hair
 

Now. now, mommy, it’s okay. I know you
Remember me with hair—braids with colored,
Plastic balls settled at the top of a nest of black—
 

Waves of lotioned hair, with a braid undone,
And a hair tie loosed so, like everything else
That comes after this disease. they say
 

It is compulsive, signaling unease, but I
Can’t seem to get to its root. it’s a habit to pull
Past pain, to remove something from me.
 

It’s okay, mommy. I’m right here with you. they
Tell me it is reversible—something that can be treated
Like wood—which can keep a structure beautiful
 

For years. when building something to stand
For a while—the body of a man, for instance—
To stand without talking back, as some have
 

Unfortunately—it is best to use pressure.
According to the pamphlet on my kitchen
Counter, the walls are not crawling with insects.
 

It says our building is treated by people
I can’t seem to name, but I know
I heard him, mommy. I hear him. do you?

 


 

I HAVE ONE SMALL GLASS AND A LIMITED REGISTER

I keep a word bank in reserve to answer people when I am not listening. The problem is that I am always listening. I never break into the reserve. Whether this is really a problem, I am not certain. I am certain there is a problem with my reserve. I break into it sometimes just to check in. To make sure everything is still there, I open it up. I think that I am opening. One cannot be certain.

 


 

are you afraid of the dark, girls?

after Tonya M. Foster

 

remember being
            told that somehow
you’re (b)lack on the outside
 

and white
            on the inside.
wondering
 

what that means.
            maybe, talking white
is like (s)peaking
 

and producing
            only a (b)lank page.
maybe, my body is
 

in(k).
 

my body language never
            spoke up for me.
sometimes, I’d (s)ink
 

in my stomach.
            the thing is
sometimes
 

the disconnect
            between this brain
and body is real.
 

            I (k)now
a thief’s been here.
            stole the connection
 

between (y)our brain
            and bludgeoned body.
 

but we’re not, right?
 

hush. like the time
            I told them, I’m (not)
here. you can’t
 

hurt me.

 

 

Shaina Monet is a New Orleans native and the winner of the 2017 Vassar Miller Poetry Award. She serves as a poetry editor at Bayou Magazine and has work forthcoming in Crazyhorse, Yemassee Journal, and Sundog Lit. Currently working on her first chapbook, she mines family stories, census records, and other legal documents to trace her family history and create poems about her Creole, Indigenous, Irish, and African American ancestors in North America and beyond.

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 11:49