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Woman, 26, Remains Optimistic as Body Turns to Stone


The fruits fall all December,
flesh pulled soft across each skull,
at dawn a feast for gingy-flies.

I mistake each thud for horses
out the window, where the sea grinds
the air thick with my mother's cannabis,

the pollen of her sweet cure-all,
as she collects the fallen mangoes
and chants my name at the battered sky:

Montego Bay, Thermopylae.
My finger a stiff bullet of karst limestone.
My mother's song her only version of prayer.

Little sister emerges from the wall to scrape
me clean. Dust settles in the fringe of her lashes,
but she does not complain.

All winter I've been petrifying in this greenery,
my body a fixed bolt; sheets of dermic ash,
stirrups of bone, and one black tooth pulsing

canines in my heart. Mother, your cannibal
lives there. Where the first teething
on rough cement left me dissolved

inside of you, absorbing everything
that made you ache—your clothes soaked
with blood every night, your hair growing

thick in places you had never seen.
Now this morning you have come to reclaim
me, carrying my name in your throat;

but I have purged myself empty
in our seaside home, a sea fished barren
by your father, his traps long salted dry,

the sternum of my body now a relic
in the sand, as grayscale claims this maw
of pelvis, my womb the coiled rock of coral.

Nothing will survive here.
Ossa, Infanta.

The world in bloom obscenely.
Pluming and dividing
while I crackle dry with plague.


Safiya Sinclair

Cannibal
University of Nebraska Press


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