The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love by Kristen Rademacher


This selection comes from the book, FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love, available from She Writes Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Kristen Rademacher has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since 2002, which is when she began writing. FROM THE LAKE HOUSE is her first memoir. With a Master’s Degree in Education and a Professional Coaching Certification, Kristen is an Academic Coach and ADHD Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also leads trainings and presentations at national conferences on the topic of academic coaching. Find her online at kristenrademacher.com

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love by Kristen Rademacher


This selection comes from the book, FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love, available from She Writes Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Kristen Rademacher has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since 2002, which is when she began writing. FROM THE LAKE HOUSE is her first memoir. With a Master’s Degree in Education and a Professional Coaching Certification, Kristen is an Academic Coach and ADHD Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also leads trainings and presentations at national conferences on the topic of academic coaching. Find her online at kristenrademacher.com

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love by Kristen Rademacher


This selection comes from the book, FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love, available from She Writes Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Kristen Rademacher has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since 2002, which is when she began writing. FROM THE LAKE HOUSE is her first memoir. With a Master’s Degree in Education and a Professional Coaching Certification, Kristen is an Academic Coach and ADHD Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also leads trainings and presentations at national conferences on the topic of academic coaching. Find her online at kristenrademacher.com

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love by Kristen Rademacher


This selection comes from the book, FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love, available from She Writes Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Kristen Rademacher has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since 2002, which is when she began writing. FROM THE LAKE HOUSE is her first memoir. With a Master’s Degree in Education and a Professional Coaching Certification, Kristen is an Academic Coach and ADHD Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also leads trainings and presentations at national conferences on the topic of academic coaching. Find her online at kristenrademacher.com

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love by Kristen Rademacher


This selection comes from the book, FROM THE LAKE HOUSE: A Mother’s Odyssey of Loss and Love, available from She Writes Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Kristen Rademacher has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since 2002, which is when she began writing. FROM THE LAKE HOUSE is her first memoir. With a Master’s Degree in Education and a Professional Coaching Certification, Kristen is an Academic Coach and ADHD Specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also leads trainings and presentations at national conferences on the topic of academic coaching. Find her online at kristenrademacher.com

 

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Un-American by Hafizah Geter

The poet Hafizah Geter (Nigeria/USA), New York, New York, February 7, 2020. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

TESTIMONY

for tamir rice, 2002–2014

Mr. President,
After they shot me they tackled my sister.
The sound of her knees hitting the sidewalk
made my stomach ache. It was a bad pain.
Like when you love someone
and they lie to you. Or that time Mikaela cried
all through science class and wouldn’t tell anyone why.
This isn’t even my first letter to you,
in the first one I told you about my room
and my favorite basketball team
and asked you to come visit me in Cleveland
or send your autograph. In the second one
I thanked you for your responsible citizenship.
I hope you are proud of me too.
Mom said you made being black beautiful again
but that was before someone killed Trayvon.
After that came a sadness so big it made everyone
look the same. It was a long time before we could
go outside again. Mr. President it took one whole day
for me to die and even though I’m twelve and not afraid of the dark
I didn’t know there could be so much of it
or so many other boys here.


This selection comes from the book, Un-American, available from Wesleyan University Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Born in Zaria, Nigeria, Hafizah Geter is a Nigerian-American poet, writer, and editor. She received her BA in English and economics from Clemson University and an MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Hafizah’s poetry and prose have appeared in THE NEW YORKER, TIN HOUSE, BOSTON REVIEW, LONGREADS, AND MCSWEENEY’S INDELIBLE IN THE HIPPOCAMPUS, among others.

An editor for Little A and TOPPLE Books from Amazon Publishing, Hafizah serves on the planning committee for the Brooklyn Book Festival and lives in Brooklyn, New York where she is working on a novel about coming to America and a full-length nonfiction project about the intersection of anti blackness, climate change, language, borders, and the aftermath of American slavery in daily life.

 

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Un-American by Hafizah Geter

The poet Hafizah Geter (Nigeria/USA), New York, New York, February 7, 2020. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

HOW TO BRING YOUR CHILDREN TO AMERICA

The mothers became targets.
Hanging on clotheslines, bibs
of the barely fed.
Children, countries born
split in two—firstborns
whose first steps aborted
their sisters, brothers, the fresh bread
of their love language,
children the English
tearing sphincters in two.
The mothers came by boat,
with wings, forgetting

their own mothers’ uteruses, singing
praises to Allah, they came over and over again
until it could not matter that so-and-so had died,
we were the nicknames escaping
their bellies, the translation between
stay and never arrived.
Husbands, uncles, we were
wives, illnesses, pawpaw seeds,
only things that could save them,
sickle cells that knew better
than to touch. Visible
only in their dialect, they spoke to cousins,
wired money, forgave ancestors
we couldn’t trust.

They stopped speaking to us
in our birth language until we became new
dictionaries, became the consonants
of the Constitution they studied,
our first words forgotten
artifacts in our home
countries. They were the ones
whose fathers had died
in the milt of language,
without daughters.
In America, we were memories
without accents or consensus,
lambs that couldn’t be traded
for milk, meal, or honey,

the fact of our bodies
in America their new Quran.
And, oh, how they moaned,
how they starved, sucking their teeth
between King’s English, yelling for us
to stop playing immigrant and go
get naturalized.


This selection comes from the book, Un-American, available from Wesleyan University Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Born in Zaria, Nigeria, Hafizah Geter is a Nigerian-American poet, writer, and editor. She received her BA in English and economics from Clemson University and an MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Hafizah’s poetry and prose have appeared in THE NEW YORKER, TIN HOUSE, BOSTON REVIEW, LONGREADS, AND MCSWEENEY’S INDELIBLE IN THE HIPPOCAMPUS, among others.

An editor for Little A and TOPPLE Books from Amazon Publishing, Hafizah serves on the planning committee for the Brooklyn Book Festival and lives in Brooklyn, New York where she is working on a novel about coming to America and a full-length nonfiction project about the intersection of anti-blackness, climate change, language, borders, and the aftermath of American slavery in daily life.

 

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Un-American by Hafizah Geter

The poet Hafizah Geter (Nigeria/USA), New York, New York, February 7, 2020. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

U N – AMERICAN

My mother transfers the last marigold

from a pot to a patch of earth

that she’s carefully bellied out

beneath her, the dirt cool as a penny,

her fingers tender with the bright

petals as she demonstrates how

what’s uprooted can return

to solid ground,

her colonial English helpless

against her native tongue’s prayers.

Allāhu Akbar, my mother says as casually

as she says my name.

The wind, warmer

than the water from her morning wudu,

continues its pilgrimage East,

a steady stream

of fireworks chasing it in the distance.

My mother looks at me all shine,

her dreams quietly

wild in her garden.

She says the rain can do

in Nigeria what no sun will ever

do here in South Carolina,

her shadow my only relief

from the Confederate heat.

High noon, work done,

my mother settles in on the front porch

where my father swallows

the landscape in his hands.

Leaning over his shoulder,

she watches him sketch

another promise—

his wife and last child digging

in the garden. Our likenesses,

figurines, forever

in a charcoal

amber. In his mind,

my father is always building

shelter, the spirits that haunt him

like mice in the walls:

oranges for Christmas,

a single pair of khakis

to last all year, his mother

on her knees

Murphy oiling a white woman’s Alabama

home. The heat licks the corners

of my father’s sketchbook to a curl.

He draws God’s shadow right

down to the horns.

In the garden, the bees burn

their tongues on sprouting

chili peppers, turning the honey mad.

Fireworks splash against my parents’

American Dream, a switch that turns

all their ghosts on.

Children prowl the streets

with sparklers in hand

impatient for the holiday to dusk.

I look for the ones like me and my sister

who, not born in this country,

can never be president.

My sister, upstairs, asleep

in the relief of this Independence.

Returned from college,

she’s still never shed the gait

of our barely remembered home country.

My longing could drive a car—

citizen I am

to our parents’ wounds.

My sister’s and my blood the scar

healed between them. Half of us

never owned. Half,

Southern-lynched. Strange fruit.

Watch as I pull the slave out

of me, how un-American,

to wear the names

of what they fled.

My grass-stained knees pledge allegiance

to a country that belongs to no one

I love.


This selection comes from the book, Un-American, available from Wesleyan University Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Born in Zaria, Nigeria, Hafizah Geter is a Nigerian-American poet, writer, and editor. She received her BA in English and economics from Clemson University and an MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Hafizah’s poetry and prose have appeared in THE NEW YORKER, TIN HOUSE, BOSTON REVIEW, LONGREADS, AND MCSWEENEY’S INDELIBLE IN THE HIPPOCAMPUS, among others.

An editor for Little A and TOPPLE Books from Amazon Publishing, Hafizah serves on the planning committee for the Brooklyn Book Festival and lives in Brooklyn, New York where she is working on a novel about coming to America and a full-length nonfiction project about the intersection of anti-blackness, climate change, language, borders, and the aftermath of American slavery in daily life.

 

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Un-American by Hafizah Geter

The poet Hafizah Geter (Nigeria/USA), New York, New York, February 7, 2020. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

NATURALIZED CITIZEN

Mouthing amendments, our mother studied

the Constitution. Her whisper

not English, not her

Hausa tongue,

but something lower—

a car revving its engine.

Our mother memorized presidents, capital cities,

adopted habits like moving

her green card from one closet to another,

kept a manila folder for every year of her life.

In the kitchen she turned Cream

of Wheat into tuwo shinkafa,

cooked kuka until our Catholic school jumpers stunk

of crushed baobab leaves. She’d spend days in

her garden refusing to explain anything

but the marigolds.

In America, no one would say her name

correctly. I watched it rust

beneath the salt of so many tongues

like a pile of crushed Chevys.

At night, she prayed to Allah

for something from America that was more

than children. Come weekends,

we were counting

the naira in her underwear drawer.

From her calling cards, we learned

Naa goodee meant

thank you.

Kai!,

everything else.


This selection comes from the book, Un-American, available from Wesleyan University Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Born in Zaria, Nigeria, Hafizah Geter is a Nigerian-American poet, writer, and editor. She received her BA in English and economics from Clemson University and an MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Hafizah’s poetry and prose have appeared in THE NEW YORKER, TIN HOUSE, BOSTON REVIEW, LONGREADS, AND MCSWEENEY’S INDELIBLE IN THE HIPPOCAMPUS, among others.

An editor for Little A and TOPPLE Books from Amazon Publishing, Hafizah serves on the planning committee for the Brooklyn Book Festival and lives in Brooklyn, New York where she is working on a novel about coming to America and a full-length nonfiction project about the intersection of anti-blackness, climate change, language, borders, and the aftermath of American slavery in daily life.

 

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Un-American by Hafizah Geter

The poet Hafizah Geter (Nigeria/USA), New York, New York, February 7, 2020. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

THE PLEDGE


This selection comes from the book, Un-American, available from Wesleyan University Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.

Born in Zaria, Nigeria, Hafizah Geter is a Nigerian-American poet, writer, and editor. She received her BA in English and economics from Clemson University and an MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Hafizah’s poetry and prose have appeared in THE NEW YORKER, TIN HOUSE, BOSTON REVIEW, LONGREADS, AND MCSWEENEY’S INDELIBLE IN THE HIPPOCAMPUS, among others.

An editor for Little A and TOPPLE Books from Amazon Publishing, Hafizah serves on the planning committee for the Brooklyn Book Festival and lives in Brooklyn, New York where she is working on a novel about coming to America and a full-length nonfiction project about the intersection of anti-blackness, climate change, language, borders, and the aftermath of American slavery in daily life.