A POEM IN WHERE I’M DEAD & I TALK TO MY PORTRAIT IN A MUSEUM
By travis tate
Hello, dark skin. Hello, shallow bones.
Hello, dark mark from where a lover kissed.
Hello, brown skin. Hello, black body on the
way to love a man, on the way to the laundry.
Hello, the same beauty mark of your mother.
Hello, to folded hands, bringing on some kind
of weak calm to the face. Hello, face, branded
with the world’s despair, trying to leap over
all of it with a crooked smile. Shirt too close
to the chest, pulling at the armpits, shaped
over the stomach like a tight melon. O,
tiny loves. O, you were given over to a lover,
pushed into them, weathered their storm.
Aren’t you grateful? For the hands that once
lead you to the end of the world? Hello,
dumb black thighs skirted in black hair. Hello,
blood creeping around the knees, some
new age warrior, what you faced an army
wouldn’t scoff at. They keep you here
because there is no memorial for the way
you chipped away at this world like
a woodworker, like some marble artist.
• • •
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travis tate is a queer, Black playwright, poet and performer from Austin, Texas. Their poetry has appeared in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Underblong, apt, and Cosmonauts Avenue, among other journals. Maiden, their debut poetry collection, is out on Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. They earned an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. You can find more about them at travisltate.com.