Poet of the Week: Shayla Hawkins

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after Vievee Francis’s “Epicurean”

A broad chest, a barrel chest, chest that Atlas
wished to have before he hefted the world’s weight
onto his shoulders. A chest that I would fill
with the pearls and gold doubloons of my love,
that I would fight Ali Baba and the 40 thieves
to take as my own. A chest whose sublime musculature
Michelangelo, even with the finest Carrara marble,
would be hard-pressed to chisel and replicate

Not the mothball-laden metal chest of my childhood
where wool blankets and winter socks were kept,
but a chest of blood and bone and flesh
that, from neck to navel, I would kiss clean each night.
In my adoration, I would have this chest, enter with reverence
its cave of wonders, both losing and finding myself
there in the riches of my beloved’s secrets, the breath of his life,
and, the greatest treasure, his heart.


First published in The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics, edited by Diane Lockward, Terrapin Books, 2018.

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