& 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,
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.