POCOMANIA Poem by Safiya Sinclair


Father unbending father unbroken father
with the low-hanging belly, father I was cleaved from,
pressed into, cast and remolded, father I was forged
in the fire of your self. Ripped my veined skin, one eyelid,
father my black tangle of hair and teeth. Born yellowed
and wrinkled, father your jackfruit, foster my overripe flesh.
Father your first daughter now severed at the ankles, father
your black machete. I remember your slick smell, your sea-dark,
your rum-froth, wailed and smeared my wet jelly across
your cheek. Father forgive my impossible demands. I conjure you
in woven tam, Lion of Judah, Father your red, gold,
and green. Father a flag I am waving/father a flag I am burning.
Father skittering in on a boat of whale skeleton,
his body wrapped in white like an Orthodox priest. Father
and his nest of acolyte women, his beard-comber, his Primrose,
his Dahlia, his Nagasaki blossom. Mother and I were none of them.
Father washing me in eucalyptus, in garlic, in goldenseal.
Fathering my exorcism. Father the harsh brine of my sea.
Making sounds only the heart can feel. Father a burrowing
insect, his small incision. No bleat but a warm gurgle -
Daughter entering this world a host. Father your beached animal,
your lamentations in the sand. Mother her red bones come knocking.
Mother her red bones come knocking at the floorboards,
my mother knock-knocking at his skull when he dreams.
Scratching at your door, my dry rattle of Morse code:
Father Let me in. With the mash-mouth spirits who enter us,
Father the split fibula where the marrow must rust -
Father the soft drum in my ear. Daughter unweeding
her familiar mischief. Mother jangling the ribcage: I am here.

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