How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This

Hanif Abdurraqib

Forgive me, for I have been nurturing my well-worngrudges against beauty. I am hoping my neighborswill show some mercy on me for backing my car intothe garden & crushing what I will say were the peonies.a flower with a short season. born dying. some might sayit’s a blessing to know your entrances & exits. forgive me, forI have once again been recklessly made responsiblefor the curation of softness & have instead returned with anothertorrent of viciousness. in the brief moment of their flourish,at the opening of spring, I drove across state lines to gather peonies for a womanwho loved me once. as a way of surrender, I pull the alreadydying thing from the earth in a mess of tangled knots & I insistthat you must keep it alive for a year, even after it so desperatelywants to be done with the foolishness of its living. The last thingI ask of this relationship is to burden you with another is so delicious to define the misery you are putting a body out of.& just like that, we are talking about power. how awful this must be for youI whispered as I closed my eyes & put the car into reverse.

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Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first collection of poems, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, was released in 2016 and was nominated for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in fall 2017 by Two Dollar Radio.

Gulf Coast

Winter/Spring 2019

Houston, Texas

University of Houston

Justin Jannise

Managing Editor
Paige Quiñones

Poetry Editors
Josh English
Devereux Fortuna
Nicholas Rattner

Begun by Donald Barthelme and Phillip Lopate, Gulf Coast is the nationally-distributed journal housed within the University of Houston’s English Department.

Gulf Coast is still student-run. We seek to promote and publish quality literature in our local and national communities while simultaneously teaching excellence in literary publishing to graduate and undergraduate students. While we are committed to providing a balanced combination of literary approaches and voices, all of the editorial positions are two-year terms, thus ensuring a regular turnover in the specific personality and style of the journal.

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