What Breath Gives Back #19

by Patricia Smith Best of the Net Finalist 2018 seal


Behind the flash, he seems somewhat possessed
by what my stare can do. He’s not exactly sure
if I’m a child—a gangly immature
rapscallion in a disarming dress—
or if my luminescent gaze suggests
perfumed acknowledgment. I can endure
his ill-considered hope, because the cure
is history. My murdered mother rests
in me, aflame and flailing still, her grand
and muscled body hitched to labor. Saint
Domingue’s copper slap still simmers, sears
her thirsty skin, then mine—bodacious and
bedamned, she thrashes through me. Her restraint
is why I smolder. Murderous. Austere.

Poem copyright 2017 by Patricia Smith. Photograph courtesy Smith-DeSilva collection.
All rights reserved.

See more poems from this series debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: What Breath Gives Back #3, #6, #8

Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt

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