Thursday, August 20, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Kristin Davis

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

We asked poets to give us the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.


Content Notice: Domestic abuse, verbal abuse, gender-based

Red not Pink
By Kristin Davis

is a hand print on skin
I’ll give you something to cry about!
I learn to be cheerful
and compliant,

a capillary that rives in my eyes
you’re overreacting
I hold my breath
instead of speaking,

a bitten lip that twitches
your ass is hot in those pants
I pick up the pace
dress differently next time,

a flush that rises on my neck
I know you’re in there!
I tense behind a door
to deny consent,

skin that swells around each little wound
does your husband know
you’re driving the good car?!
insult subordinate to a good laugh.

It is the color of negative ink
eighty cents on the dollar
being spoken over
and overlooked,

the color of heart
just what is it you do all day?
quiet care and keep
noticed only when absent,

the color of blood
coming out of her wherever,
of indignity, of solidarity
of the shirt I wore today.*

*March 8, 2017, the International Day of the Woman

Listen as Kristin Davis reads "Red not Pink."

Previously published in What Rough Beast (March 20, 2017).

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