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MOORING AT THE MOUTH by Sarah Maria Medina

i am afraid to send my daughter/ into the howl of it/ afraid of lynching/ that they will see her

brown skin & mistake her perfect/ hand for a gun/ afraid to send her/ into its open mouth

its hands that rape/ & split pits/ i wrap my bones to her/ small shoulders/ want to ferry/ us

to a land of queens/ because freeways with open/ uzis/ because her palms constellate

already in flight/ then she looks up/ says/ mama they’re free now &/ i wonder if she hums sky

how/ she sings when she runs/ through field/ remembers sacred/ escape/ spirit song

& i bury other stories far/ down: once/ a white skin/ Native cousin/ said the Black/ washed

out of me/ i heaved dry bile/ & ran to my window/ afraid he’d see my father & shoot

i’ll never forget/ how i held my skin/ the skin he said would fall/ & sobbed at the thought

of losing/ what my father had given/ born light like my mother/ how that light/ saved my jaw

from his knuckles/ i hid my braids/ afraid they’d be cut/ how hard we downed the Ave/ how

they shot Radio/ how he was ahead/ his Black body a comet/ toward ground/ his leg a broken

wing/ how he crawled the stairs/ proud/ how we never tongued/ how i knock wood/ pinch salt

stack penny/ how we walk into ocean/ as offering/ how white lovers told/ me to carve out/ my

bones so i’d look/ like them/ how i resisted their kind/ of beauty/ how i opened my mouth

back late/ & a man tried to run/ over my girlfriend/ how i pulled her back/ into streetlight/ how his

lawyer taunted/ mispronouncing her Korean/ name/ how i kept cool/ called his bluff/ how he

said has this hit before/ like somehow my femme/ seeks attack/ how i drank water to temper/ my

mouth/ now we learn lightening/ procedure & crouch low/ when i slept in Ravenna park

my father/ held a birthday cake/ alone/ he lit the candles out/ for me/ & years i found him/ i bring

that forest now/ take my child’s hand/ afraid to let her/ the river’s mouth/ i burn back/ say

look we’re still here/ & every night since/ she was a baby/ i check that she’s still/ breathing


Sarah Maria Medina is a poet and a fiction/creative non-fiction writer from the American Northwest. Her writing has been published in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Midnight Breakfast, Educe Journal, PANK, Raspa Literary Journal and elsewhere. She was a finalist in Indiana Review’s 2015 Poetry Prize. She is also the poetry editor at Winter Tangerine. Medina is at work on several projects, including a chapbook of poetry and her memoir, The Necessity of Not Drowning.

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