Hillsborough, New Jersey, USA
Princeton Day School
Guns clenched between our teeth, bullets tucked
beneath muscled tongues, we speak in strained smiles
and kempt jaws. These shadows talk, so we sulk in the aftertaste
of pickled sorrow, gnaw our cheeks raw into submission. We’d sooner choke
down consonance than loosen our own tongues. At night
we polish casings with saliva and eulogize the men
who prune our lips thin of rosebuds. We
hurl our slippers at staircases, sob as fingers
pluck lemongrass from weed. Mama says
to stare into the sun before harvest: better blind as our sisters
meet scythe, deaf as they cry cleaved womanhood. The final
grace: our eyes skim stained-glass epiphanies in search of some
kindred history, find only parched bones and loaded cannons.
So in the dead of night, I confess
to my mirror: these shadows are not brave enough to hold
me. I make myself candle, burn through
my lips, slick like crosshairs. Make myself bird,
unfurled in wind, lament how you remain soft,
pressed into corners, smoked skin molded
to your vessel. I know the lies you sing yourself to sleep,
the sisters’ screams that crack your lips,
the bullets rattling up the back of your throat. How you long to
smile wide, take aim, and fire.
This piece was previously published in the Parentheses Journal, January 2021.
At the heart of "Harvest" is something raw and bodily, moving and violent. It contrasts a sense of constricting conformity with a desire to break free, and it'll send chills down your spine as it unearths something wholly powerful.
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