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Carry Me

ISSUE:  Winter 2019

after Langston Hughes 

I followed the shimmer far down a road I still haven’t found 
the ending to. I picked up my life 
my mother sewed a map to back of—
so one day I’d lay it out and travel back to the flat land 
of eastern North Carolina.
A map to land where my body will finally die,
where my ghost won’t ride the trains all night, 
count steps from liberty to home. 

I tried to find the ocean before I was covered in southern soil.
I put my head underneath the Atlantic, swallowed so many memories, 
I’m filled with people, 
                                      someone has taught me to fly.
Whichever way I flew, my inheritance couldn’t be lifted 
from northeastern North Carolina’s wet clay,
its hands harden around my already weighted ankles.

My mother’s mother planted hydrangeas where I wanted to place an ocean. 
Where I wanted to place an ocean, she grew me. 

I picked up my life, for it was the only one I had to pick up,
the way the body must pick itself up if no one is around 
to offer a rounded hand out of the snow that only buries. Stuck to my life 
were the same things I carry back with me now, 
my father’s lying I’ve mastered and wear how a field wears the bones of birds.
The green tint of gin bottles my uncles made of their bare nights. 


My mother, 
        the only reason I have something to pick up.


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