Track: “More Than a Woman,” Aaliyah

like the meat of a mango,
i offer a proposition. i’ll give you

the sweetest parts: waist of my neck,
bridge of my laughter, coat

of my inner thigh, shield of my intimacy.
like the meat of a mango, i stick

in teeth easy; i’m still worth every bite.
even if you choke, consider it an honor.
yesterday i saved my own life.
a Black woman in love

with herself: an answer to loneliness.
let’s say i befriend the red line, race her

to the loop, and lose. even so, she’d carry
me home rocking a restful cadence.

when i arrive at my doorstep,
a trophy will appear at my feet.
meet me on the edge of my cascade.
plant your weight on the water and walk.

i am the river. don’t like it? you must
be pebble. my flow makes stones quiver.

who the fuck do i think i am?
abundance. a skyscraper

told me, you’re 20 feet tall.
the clouds bobbed in agreement.

Arianne Elena Payne is a multidisciplinary poet and strategist from Chicago, IL. She received the 2022 Virginia Downs Poetry Award and the 2019 Frederick Hartmann Poetry Prize. She is a MFA candidate at George Mason University where she serves as a reader for Poetry Daily. Her work is situated in the complexities and lyricism of Blackness and girlhood—striving to take Black people and their contributions across time and space seriously.

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