by Ansley Moon
self portrait as the child formerly known as daughter
Our faces are lit monsters aglow
from the television. Flickering from her bed,
she switches between channels.
Since she asked that question,
time expands into silence.
She tsk-tsks & asks again.
Her voice coos soft like a demanding
& hungry pigeon. Are you dating her?
If I do not answer, she will stop. Won’t she?
The room will stop spinning & the television
will restore itself to sound. Really?
I’m okay with it. Ignore the purring in her voice
the latest pills. The daughter sighs a yes
into existence & suddenly wishes it away.
She jolts upright screams
I fucking knew it!
The next morning I watch my brothers sleep
peacefully in the living room. I unplug Christmas
lights. Planning an escape through the side door.
My hand warm on the cool, fake brass,
when I hear her breathing behind me.
Where do you think you’re going?
Please let today be the day that this door
doesn’t jam. Spit lands on my face & arm
& her mouth exposes black molars. She
is hurling herself at me. All arms.
Fingers gnawing at my skin.
I wish you had never been born.
I wish we had never adopted you.
I wish…Then I notice him
in the doorway rushing to her.
He pushes the door open
& mouths run. I bolt
into the morning light,
my arms already
smarting with bruises.
I look back for her.
The door slams.
Once upon a time,
I apologized for my body
& found ways to destroy it
fractured it against women
& men would couldn’t.
Called myself a beast
& feasted on a nest
of feathers & bones,
ate only when given permission
this diet of grubs & daughters
SelF-Portrait with Rainbow
After Safia Elhillo
I pledge allegiance to the lost girls,
to the daughters caught
between oceans. To the 50
million missing & growing.
I pledge allegiance to the legends,
to the black & brown girls
to queerness & chosen families.
I pledge allegiance to spring
months of whiteness.
Ansley Moon is the author of the poetry collection, How to Bury the Dead (2011) and the recipient of awards and fellowships from Kundiman and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, among others, as well as a recent finalist for the Jake Adam York Poetry Prize and the Great Indian Poetry Collective Emerging Poets Prize.