Poetry by Amber Officer-Narvasa

ship’s/hold/jive

don’t know how to spell g-i-v-e
it looks too much like jive which is another
kind of gesture altogether
no
the g
is there
because it is too painful to belong
to myself
one day
i looked down
and realized
that my skin already
spelled the word
look how tender
the curl of the g
look how open
the cup of the v
open
streaming
waiting
this is all i want
to be
one day i looked down
and saw that
i couldn’t give
they already took that word
from the mouths of all my mothers
(how much give does an ocean have
does it hold a body all the way
to the bottom
they never told us
only said
they threw us overboard
because we were too heavy
too heavy for the ship to
land)

(for us i wish
the blackest
softest
give
that i can
never be)
i tried a g
i tried an l
look how straight the l
look how solemn
look how true
where is the curve
where is the give
where is the hold in
l-
i-v-e

Many thanks to the work of Christina Sharpe.

 

Untitled

I am looking for you at the edge of the world.
Steadying myself to hold the width of your
surviving. Kneeling because sometimes quiet
terror is the clearest way to love. Offering you
my back because i am not mine to mark.
Learning how to balance on the underside
of tears, how to sob and open for you without
the inevitable salty end. Remembering the joke
hidden in my racing pulse so I will always have
a smile to give. For you I have lived this long,
which is another way of saying I am still asking
how to leave. I am most inside my body when
I must make of it an empty thing. Bending so far
I lose my name between your fingers, where it
sparkles like a desperate, drowning child.

 

 

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