———finalist———

& not by sight


every year I stretch wider.

my arms streetlights, my tongue

stubborn gardenia. My hips suddenly exhaust

the doorframe to my grandmother’s

kitchen. I crumple my childhood home

beneath my heel. What good is nostalgia? I cluck my tongue

and cicadas fall from their nap,

inconveniencing July. The year turns its stomach.

My father adds another bullet to the mouth

of that vintage trumpet. My mother grows a third

set of teeth. I am unsure

of the creature waiting to be freed

from beneath my scalp. What is this beast

my brother wrestles into shadow

above my bed? Come, summer. I’ll play

the anthem of my kin. As many cousins

as a season’s yield of blue crab, divided

by the number of wives my grandaddy kept

at once. I hate the skin of peaches,

the smell of nectar. Everything men lust after.

I keep my legs closed and still cannot

please my aunts. I hold my tongue until it break

loose. I pray. For my own sake

I name whoever answer me,

_____________________________________________God.





AURIELLE MARIE is an essayist, poet, and activist hailing from the Deep South. She’s received invitations to fellowships from Lambda Literary, VONA Voices, and Tin House. Her work is featured or forthcoming in The Guardian, Allure Magazine, Adroit Journal, Vinyl Poetry, and BOAAT. Aurielle writes about Blackness, bodies, sex, and pop culture from a Black feminist lens. Follow her: @YesAurielle.

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