It helps that we do not remember
when light first opened our eyes
this old testament sun
warming the dark
its nutritious sweet lingering
before even our bones.
We trade places as a single body
the daysong receiving us
no pantomime orchestra
we who have risen
to sing, to love, to die
to timbal and vibrato
until we can only sound
ourselves in the hush
until our memories are at rest
like the old trees that sated us
all those years
our mouths latched
at their roots.

Shakeema Smalls is from Georgetown, South Carolina. Her work has been published in a variety of outlets including Blackberry: A Magazine, Tidal Basin Review, Root Work Journal, Radius Lit, Free Black Space, Vinyl Poetry and Prose, Rigorous, and A Gathering of the Tribes Magazine, among others. She was a Tin House 2022 Winter Workshop participant and is a 2022 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow.

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