Survival Guide For Animals Born In Captivity

 

Survival Guide For Animals Born In Captivity

Camille Rankine

 

The trick is to get on the ground and fold
yourself into a small, soft shape.

To be in no way
sudden. To smile

but keep your lips
tight shut. The trick is

don’t get smart. Don’t dream.
Don’t imagine. Pull yourself up

but not too up. Don’t forget
you don’t belong

to anyone or any place at all.
Don’t flinch. Don’t startle.

The trick is you
were never meant

to be let in. This life
is not for you.

Don’t protest.
Don’t complain.

The trick is you buck
against your skin.

The boys look like men and the girls
get exactly what they want.

Surrender.
Deserve it.

The trick is your body itself
is a violence. This is all your fault.


CAMILLE RANKINE‘S first book of poetry, Incorrect Merciful Impulses, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. She is the author of the chapbook Slow Dance with Trip Wire, selected by Cornelius Eady for the Poetry Society of America’s 2010 New York Chapbook Fellowship, and the recipient of a 2010 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Atlas Review, American Poet, The Baffler, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Octopus Magazine, Paper Darts, Phantom Limb, A Public Space, Tin House, and elsewhere. She is Assistant Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Manhattanville College, Editorial Director of The Manhattanville Review, and lives in New York City.

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