Imagine??? My Sister an Astronaut???

Camonghne Felix

When she was small I couldn't see
her I held her hand in tendered

obligation fed her because
she was hungry

slapped her because
she spoke one day she stole

my underwear
I climbed to the top of

our bunk beds my waist a cradle over her's
my fists a marsh of dead moons

shadowing her little face
after two taps I felt the

monstrosity of my putrid desires

my intrinsic knowings
suddenly afraid to bruise the small

the strange foreign god of sisterhood

it was then I knew
I loved her something bad

she's off to college going to study
some aerospace biomedical nanoscience

shit some shit only white people think
to study because access is a frame

of reference an organizing principle
in the family group chat she sweats us out

with her excitement about next semester
and 8 a.m. trig

in high school I failed everything
graduated with underwhelming decimals

the dark trauma of men lining my transcript
but baby girl has got something

I don't
it's called discipline and

it moves her through the world slow
and deliberate all the night a platform

all the trains just stations away
she's off to space camp in a few weeks

and so fucking casual about it I say, hey
maybe you should be an astronaut yea, thinking

about it as if it were a breakfast burrito or
mommy's oxtail

my girl my young knight
driving a needle through the inflated

boundaries of ambiguous sciences I think
shiiiiiiit imagine?? My sister an astronaut???

lineage narrated through the brat
of my heart into

the prodigious stuff of the stars
towering in bigness

bigger than you and you and you
and you and you.

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Camonghne Felix, M.A. is a poet, a writer, speaker, & political strategist living in New York City. She received an M.A. in Arts Politics from NYU, an MFA from Bard College, & has received Fellowships from Cave Canem, Callaloo & Poets House. Her first full-length collection of poems, Build Yourself a Boat, was a 2017 University of Wisconsin Press Brittingham & Pollak Prize finalist, & a 2017 Fordham University Poets Out Loud semi-finalist. The author of the chapbook Yolk,  she was recently listed by Black Youth Project as a “Black Girl From the Future You Should Know.”

Chicago, Illinois

“With Build Yourself a Boat, Camonghne Felix heralds a thrillingly new form of storytelling, as much investigation as it is song, as broken as it is doused in genuine strength. These poems are packed with embodiments—not depictions—of Black female pain, empowerment, memory, and discovery. This is a fantastically tender book, generous in its precision and thoughtful in its experimentation. This debut does not come quietly or shyly—Felix is an applaudable master of language, inventively carving and pulling at words and sounds to assemble the parts of this story. Here is a voice that commands, insists, reiterates, and consumes—a voice that has earned its right to shout freely, with curiosity and aliveness and heart.”
—Morgan Parker, author of Magical Negro

“Camonghne Felix’s debut poetry collection, Build Yourself a Boat, is about the trauma and pain of black womanhood. Felix explores what it means, politically to be a black woman in a world of Trump and personally, exploring the ways heartbreak and other points of pain change a person and their body. Build Yourself a Boat was exactly what I needed to read, and revisit, this season as men decided what women should do with their bodies and as I learned to manage heartbreak.”
—Arriel Vinson, Electric Literature

“Centering on black, female identity, Camonghne Felix's Build Yourself a Boat is an exquisite and thoughtful collection that should be on everyone's TBR.”

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