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.
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