The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: “Arrival” by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor


After June Jordan

this crying
sweet fondling
reaching for milk drained breasts
all I find are dry stalks
this crude wire
this crooked strut

this wooden fish
this dried smoke
this marigold wreath
this peach chianti
this holy water
these are things I do in the dark

this clawing of self
this crying hurting
praying paying ghosts
this crude gauze mouth
this kneading of flesh to make whole again

these are things I do in the dark
this piecing together
this mauve body
this flat rubber heart

and where did I go
where did I go
reaching for that fly yellow-girl
where did I go this spirit talk
spirit talk    talking    taking
hurricane route of middle passage

talking in the dark      praying
tying the head with white
cotton    circling the hips with red
string    calling calling the dead
calling Chango

spirit where did I go
this mid-wife
this bird walk this meteor
this shell reader
sweet bush beater

this white candle    this cowrie shell
tarot cards    this peacock feather
this cigar
white veil
praying in the dance.

This selection comes from the collection Arrival, available from Northwestern University Press. Order your copy here. Our curator for May is Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie.

Cheryl Boyce-Taylor is a poet and workshop facilitator. The recipient of the 2015 Barnes and Noble Writers For Writers Award, she is the founder and curator of Calypso Muse and the Glitter Pomegranate Performance Series. Cheryl earned an MFA in Poetry from Stonecoast: The University of Southern Maine, and an MSW from Fordham University. She is the author of three collections of poetry: Raw Air, Night When Moon Follows, and Convincing the Body. A poetry judge for The New York Foundation for the Arts, and The Astraea Foundation, she has facilitated poetry workshops for Cave Canem, Poets & Writers, Poets House, and The Caribbean Literary and Cultural Center. Her poetry has been commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow, The Joyce Theater, and the National Endowment for the Arts for Ronald K. Brown: Evidence, A Dance Company. A VONA fellow, her work has been published in Callaloo, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Pluck!, Killings Journal of Arts & Letters, Adrienne, and Prairie Schooner. Her fourth book, Arrival, is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press in June 2017. Find her online here.

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is the author of Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation (Grand Concourse Press) and Karma’s Footsteps (Flipped Eye Publishing). Her work has been published in North American Review, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Black Renaissance Noire, VIDA, Crab Orchard Review, BOMB, Paris/Atlantic, and Listen Up! (One World Ballantine). Ekere has travelled across the United States sharing her poetry and ideas about healing. She has taught in New York, London, Amsterdam and Rundu, Namibia. Ekere earned an MFA from Mills College in 2002. She is a mother of three girls and an enthusiast of plant medicine making. Her cinepoems, herbal classes, and other work can be found here.


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