Let me go back to my fatherin the body of my mother the day he told her,Having black children won’t save you when the revolution comes.Let me do more than laughlike she did.Let me go back to my mother and do morethan roll my eyes when she tells me,I think deep down, in a past life, I was a black blues singer.My mother remembers the conventwhere she worked after I was born;the nuns who played with me while she cleaned.My father remembers the bedroom windowof their first apartment; his tired bodyclimbing through. It was best,they agreed, if she signed the lease alone.Scholars concludethe myths of violence that surround the black malebody protect the white female bodyfrom harm. I conclude race was notnot a factor in my parents' attraction.I am the product of their curiosity, their vengeance, their need.They rescued each other from stories scriptedonto their bodies. They tasted forbidden and devoured each otherwhole.Let me build a housewhere their memories diverge.Let me lick cleanthese bones.
Copyright © 2020 by Jamaica Baldwin
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Jamaica Baldwin hails from Santa Cruz, CA by way of Seattle. Her poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Prairie Schooner, Guernica, Hayden’s Ferry, The Adroit Journal, The Missouri Review, and TriQuarterly among others. She was the 2019 winner of the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference Contest in Poetry and a 2020 Tupelo Press Berkshire Prize Runner Up. Her work has been supported by Hedgebrook, Furious Flower, and the Jack Straw Writers Program. Jamaica holds an MFA from Pacific University Oregon and currently lives in Lincoln, NE where she is pursuing her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
The Missouri Review, founded in 1978, is one of the most highly-regarded literary magazines in the United States and for the past thirty-four years we’ve upheld a reputation for finding and publishing the very best writers first. We are based at the University of Missouri and publish four issues each year. Each issue contains approximately five new stories, three new poetry features, and two essays, all of which is selected from unsolicited submissions sent from writers throughout the world.
New, emerging, and mid-career writers whose work has been published in The Missouri Review have been anthologized over 100 times in Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Travel Writing, Best American Poetry, The O. Henry Prize Anthology, and The Pushcart Prize. We are also pleased to be the first to have published the fiction of many emerging writers, including Katie Chase, Nathan Hogan, Jennie Lin, Susan Ford, and Elisabeth Fairchild.
“The Missouri Review is, quite simply, one of the best literary journals in the world.”
—Robert Olen Butler
“I’ve admired The Missouri Review for years. . . . It’s one of a half-dozen literary magazines I always read.”
—Joyce Carol Oates