Thursday, September 17, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Sprout Foster-Goodrich

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: Violence against trans people, references to self-harm 

Trans, As In, “Transcendent”
By Sprout Foster-Goodrich

In memory of the 11 transgender and gender-nonconforming people killed as of May, 2020.

When I found out I was supposed to be a girl:
Know that
we never needed this body

In Mrs. Morgan’s second grade class,
I took an eraser to my forearm: skin rolled
back into dull gray ash, a streak
of pink beaconed

I peeled the rough-house from my muscles,
If we are reduced to ghosts
shuffled around courtrooms
Extended raw vessels like flower stems
into the boys’ hardening hands
If the shards of our shells
are rearranged into grenades
I tossed my vodka-marinated meat
into sweaty basement EDM parties, my squat-
tailored ass scooping pink bits
off the floor into the myriad mouths
of hydra men
and then returned to us
I lured boys back
into my creaky bed, crammed in a closet
Asked them to fuck my skeleton clean
of any scraps that survived the night’s teeth

We never even needed this body
So, as you can see,
No one can erase me
better than me  
We are clouds
that cannot be ripped down from heaven

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