I take my father’s nose and shove it in a box.
My mother’s mouth lays claim to the vowels
Of my making. I learned to tend and till and dig
and there is something like a hole where a good
family should be but instead I have the good people
who do the best they can with what they have.
I’ve learned the salt of the earth art of settling,
my body unraveled fatigue, my body a small Mississippi town,
its lightning bugs fat like dream songs trapped in a mason jar.
I forget to make holes to breathe. Forget to say my father
when he says not mine, tests the blood or sweat laden bed.
I hate inferred language. We sift through the words and
let the sting silt through. In a dream, I was this brown
drowning in brown water. In a past life, I was a witch
with twenty gold bangles and choking on sand.
When I woke, I asked for a new father to ignore me.
His wounds so welt and black and man, him the most
country in a city in a country that tells him to forget he’s alive.
He lifts the weight on his belt. He holsters the gun,
lighter than the double barrel shotgun he held to my mother
under the bedsheet damp with sex until onto his next wife,
his inherited daughters, built a house safe as a prison,
his finger smooth on the trigger. There are all kinds
of intimate violence. I am no dummy. He is a good man.
How the words crawl into the nook in the back of your knee.
How it sidles next to the hairs on the nape. Sometimes it pools
and pulls salt water or sometimes it is a daughter trying
to understand a man’s hard silence, how it can choke
a ghost until the ghost becomes a haint humming. Becomes
a blood song, sometimes I am still the girl making angles
of her body, jabbing elbows into him like hammers,
when I loved wrestling and wanted to be a boy.
He’d say to my mother be patient, how he won’t raise
no punk ass girls which meant become a woman who can
change her own oil and tire and tell a man to jump into a river
until the day you might need him to come home.
Aricka Foreman’s work has appeared in The Drunken Boat, Minnesota Review, RHINO, Day One, shuf Poetry, James Franco Review, thrush, Vinyl Poetry, PLUCK!, Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poems for the Next Generation by Viking Penguin, among others. She is the author of Dream With A Glass Chamber from YesYes Books and the Art co-editor at The Offing. Originally from Detroit, she currently lives in Chicago.