The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Body Not My Own by Tanque R. Jones

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Kirsten Kowalewski, is from Body Not My Own by Tanque R. Jones, released by Wayne State University Press in 2021.

content warning for slavery and violence

To Love a Slave

“not picking,
          slow picking,
                    bad picking”

I undressed you
but you wouldn’t let me see,
lingered in shadow
to conceal that part of you,
as if my eyes could re-ignite
the heat of the lash.
Now I navigate
the roadmap across your back,
first with eyes
afraid they’ll hurt you more,
then tips of my fingers.
Faintest scar the starting point
for a boy who gobbles
white folk’s leftovers.
Crisscrosses to raised terrain,
clusters of cruelties
intended to break you, “Betcha
don’t look at a white woman again.”
Trade fingers for lips,
follow broken bronze trails
to blazing footpaths cut by the devil’s spur.

Tanque R. Jones earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her second poetry collection, Body Not My Own, was the winner of the 2021 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award. In 2016, WordTech published her first book of poems Woman in Transition. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Salamander, Progenitor Art & Literary Journal, and Clackamas Literary Review.

Kirsten Kowalewski is the editor for online horror fiction review resource Monster Librarian. She has an MLS and a specialist certificate in school library media from Indiana University, has worked as a children’s librarian and elementary school media specialist, and is a lifelong reader.


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