Jellyfish Movement of Ghosts

  after Ntozake Shange

A heaving chorus walked me down the aisle of my spine
Bein’ alive and bein’ colored and bein’ a woman
She singed
Being alive and being colored and being a woman
She sang and
(Being alive and being colored and being a woman)
Belligerently turned to a question

I wake up inside myself at least six times a day
This day was that day
Was each day
Six times or more
Some days I try to get out
Other days
When the sun slants harder and thinner
I hang a crying like a pelt by the window and stare at it
Fall to my knees and
Pull at the skin of my thighs
And taste on my tongue a
Of synapses
Warm and light like

I was pulled out of a womb with the hands of ghosts
They perched on my crib and
Never had feet
Only hands and
Sang to me with wind from their mouths
Songs that were only scary if you were scared

My sister had it harder (her first word was police)
I tried writing her trauma in a notebook
And a fist-shaped shadow rocked me to my knees

She knew how to make song and dance out of peeling walls
Bedrooms with no doors
And fault-line cracks in linoleum
That disappeared with dust under the stove
And the square of concrete between the Chinese restaurant and
    the bus stop
Into a cave with emeralds (as big as pill bottles) inside

She took me to burger master when she didn’t know what to do
    with me
Worked two too many jobs
Forgot to put socks on me
And though I was three
I knew this would embarrass her
So I let my toes chafe
And my blisters burn and bleed.

Once, she yelled me into the kitchen
Came back dizzy (from wandering roads that were not hers)
Wringing her hands too hard
Rivers of veins poking at the bony dead hills of her knuckles
She forgot to put lotion on (for 363 days straight)
On purpose
Seven dirty nickels in her left pocket
And a knife

She yelled
If I wanted to be living
I couldn’t fear blood
I walked slowly to her, head down,
Hands upturned like communion and
She dripped her blood on my palms
(A color I had never truly seen)
Like rain.

This is Djenanway Se-Gahon’s first publication.