The Body You Remember

Gary Jackson

Consider how it recalls the simplest movements.How it always shoots the right foot first.It never forgets where to hold tight the apexof a cursive G before rounding her sloping curve.The body never betrays.But how many times have youconfused anticipate with expect,forgotten the names of novelsyou read, left your keysin the door, lost your father'sbirthday, your best friend's last name?Memories flake like dead skin,carpet the hardwood floors.Your last birthday settlingover your first fight in sixth grade.No, the body doesn't betray. Years of usenever dulls memory's blade. Every actionembedded through muscle into bone.It's still able to unlock every act,even if you've forgotten how.

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Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, Gary Jackson is the author of origin story (University of New Mexico, 2021) and Missing You, Metropolis (Graywolf, 2010), which received the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. He’s also co-editor of The Future of Black: Afrofuturism, Black Comics, and Superhero Poetry (Blair, 2021). His poems have appeared in numerous journals including Callaloo, The Sun, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Copper Nickel. He’s an associate professor of English and creative writing in the MFA program and Director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.

"origin story is both intensely intimate and utterly everyman. These are poems of both great weight and profound lightness. . . It is impossible to read origin story and not feel obliged to think hard about one’s own upbringing, impossible not to be moved and changed by what these poems bring to light."
—Tim Seibles, author of Fast Animal

"From post–Korean War era to the present day, ongoing brutalities upon Black bodies, and the complexities of a speaker born to a Black-Asian mother and Black father, Jackson’s poems in origin story reveal the porous interconnectedness of our boundaries—bloodlines, memories, trauma, silences—and how origin stories and their contested retellings hold deep roots to our sense of betrayal and belonging."
—Esther Lee, author of Sacrificial Metal

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