Words By Faylita Hicks, Art By Hailey Brown
You should know this city
thirsts for copper-
tinged sediment & meat
fresh from the workers
of the dying farms & fields.
Sick without a steady flux
of salt-leaking star-beaten
bodies, this city turns
in on itself & chews
on my sisters—their faces,
an edible bouquet
of bloody balloons;
my brothers—their ghosts,
hanging spinach in the city’s teeth;
swinging from construction cranes
flags of the dead or dying.
Last month, while driving back
from the funeral in Dallas, traffic
hit just outside of town. I pulled
into a cemetery—to smoke
& think about what waited for me
just down the road under a bypass.
A mall of tents, an officer, and a mausoleum—
all the half-eaten & unclean—
everything under the city’s kitchen sink.
Tired of trying to be touched
in places that no longer exist,
we amuse ourselves in the dark
by hyphenating our names
with invisible bodies, smoking
menthols & laughing
about the large dicks
of our dead husbands.
We share tips about screwing
our tears down to the floorboards,
stowing away our carnalities
deep in the groins of arbitrary men
—sometimes women—erasing any evidence
we ever resisted the sanctuary of sleep.
Gyrating slow, we dip
our shoulders into the swelling Atlantic—
reach back for whatever can be recovered
from the flood. She finds a conch shell.
I find the cowrie. We both stand—counting
the sand we’ve gathered in our bowls.
We bought our rings in the market
down by Café Du Monde,
sterling silver—so the orb
and the old black poet at the table next to ours
murmured that you were lucky to have
such a beautiful brown woman
by your side. You didn’t
correct him. He told us to get married.
You said nothing. We laughed.
What would your family think
when they saw us—with our bands?
We laughed, drank coffee,
and said nothing for hours.
You knocking your ring against
the fragile rim of the mug
in a rhythm I couldn’t quite catch,
as we ate sugar-coated buns and waited
for the sun to lean over us
into the streets