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I know my suffering is loud but my skin
is light as sky and I was told to let it
open doors, shake hands, slip the cover
over their eyes, so I could be. Free
is not a negro doused in white, blanched,
bleached, and sent down the path. Free
almost never means alive, so please try—
I’m asking for help. Whose fist is in my ribs
at which gate. What color is the moon.
How do I move the line when it is buried
in the earth. Why do you think my face
is the face you think you see. In the earth.
In the water. Where can I rest my feet.
My hands. My tongue. My lungs. My eye.
Charif Shanahan is the author of Into Each Room We Enter Without Knowing, winner of the 2015 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Prize. A Cave Canem graduate fellow, he was recently named a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University.
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