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Cameron Awkward-Rich: Poet of the Week

Cameron Awkward-Rich, Palo Alto, CA
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Theory of Motion (6), Nocturne

for them all

I’ve tried not to write about these ghosts.
As if this too does not turn a child

to narrative. As if this too does not
demand a kind of work. But boy

after boy after boy after boy after
girl after sweet shadow of a boy—

& have you ever known a body
to not be haunted? Ever known

a black body to not be riddled
with light

//

We buried my great-grandmother in 2008.
She was 95. She survived so much.

If I have to tell you what I mean, then she’s
not yours to carry. If I have to tell you, well,

here’s a door opening in the poem.
Here’s an exit. Walk through.

//

My great-grandmother was named Violet.
Violet. She had six sisters, a garden

of black girls. Imagine naming your girl-
child for a flower. Imagine doing this

over & over again. Imagine a flower, how easy
to ruin for want of a little color

to decorate the kitchen. Imagine tearing up
handfuls of blossoms. Imagine pressing them

into a girl’s dark shape, to say this is you.
This is what the world has made of you.

Now imagine she lived
& she lived.

//

Once, I was a girl
who took a black boy’s name

into her mouth. I don’t know a thing
about bullets, but I sure do know

about holes.

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