It takes more than good intentions to transform the South. It takes money.
What the hell is a Scalawag?
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?