in the summer before i find work,
uncle Mike plays highlife for auntie Bev and me
mom calls me often and we have our nightly devotionals
mom calls me often to ask if i’ve been doing my nightly devotionals
i tell her my breath is too hot.1
in the liminal spaces,
my lips taste like food i have never eaten
i swallow my spit
i swallow my tongue
i swallow my whole mouth.2
back home,
a prophecy comes out
Ọmọbinrin fighting for her life, they see
she won’t survive it, they say
the elders rebuke it in the mighty name of Jesus.3
in my kitchen,
there’s a self-portrait of Zenele Muholi
i meet her gaze whenever my lover keeps my pride.
in June,
we drive down to New Jersey to meet his family
his brother says, “I bet you’ve never been around so many Italians before.”4
on the street,
i walk into white men.5

1 someone took my Jesus away
2 i throw up baby boy
3 necessity of political will
4 blackness may not be a foreclosed subjectivity and there are things other people tend to want to know for us
5 i only walk into white men