It takes more than good intentions to transform the South. It takes money.

What the hell is a Scalawag?

Muse Redaction

Mother won't tell me to mention sexuality, to put down my books

so I won't have to look into all your faces. My blouses open

into the arms of ghosts and this, mostly, exposes the cold

surface of mirror to the breasts. You say clothing is an odd set

of containers for the limbs, a phoropter that clicks into the wrong

prescription. And in the gallery, I mistake your portraits

for bird shit, must wrap my wrists in something scarlet

as directed. Often I forget ordinary blessings: rubbing

the pad of my thumb against a contact lens, my boredom

with being heartbroken. Your fingers in my mouth

are always a solution if I'm gonna be the Visionary of Knives

you want to neck. I want to laugh at the sliced sausages

you pin to the white walls streaked with sweat. The blurred

faces of meat curl into an everyday hurt that makes us whet

and in the blue-black of my bed, I swear

I don't like you. I will not call you Muse.

Are There Parts or You People Wear Around?

I hold the spool to my eye, a kaleidoscope that splits

my hand, my mother's sewing kit, the carpet into symmetrical

cells, reminds me of my body during puberty, sitting dirty

in a tub with many nubs and bits of fuzz. I know, somewhere

there's a woman in a factory who winds thread around spools

like this. She must be very careful to keep her fingers

clean and tidy, not to stain the thread. Every Sunday,

my mother pulled at my scalp like a loom, her fingers digging in

until my braids were neat and taut. I ask the spool,

Why have so many people touched you? The spool

does what it is told. The spool does not take note

of its own body. At my first gyno visit, the nurse felt up

my tits and asked if I had a history of eating disorders.

The spool is made of hard, black plastic,

is hollow and should not be confused

with a spindle. I want to know more about folktales

where girls are sewing. I want to know more folktales

where girls sew their own bodies. How

have they been passed from person to person?

Is the needle missing? How tight is the knot

of mother's blood that starts the next row of stitches?

M'Bilia Meekers

A Cave Canem fellow, M'Bilia Meekers received her MFA in poetry from NYU. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, Split Lip, Foglifter, The Adroit Journal, Poet Lore, Wildness,
Tinderbox, and Guernica. She lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and is working on her first collection of poems.