My Left Eye

My Left Eye

By Walidah Imarisha

do not love too big
your heart squeezed between the
fragile eggshells of ribs
keep it small
to hold in one cupped hand
jagged wings to be protected
do not let it flavor
your tongue
saturate your spit
until it glistens like dew
keep love tucked in your cheek

I have been battered
to my roots
by the ravages of my own heart
i have showered myself
upon another’s head
slid down his upturned moon face
at the corners of his lips
shaped like afrika

the brilliance of a sun
can suck dry
any land
and he burned hotter
than redemption
building his house
of whitened bone
scorched blood
and chaste hope
I found myself alone
with only the darkness licking
my ear
my endless love
slowly crushing
my handmade temple

learn to only love small
I told my aching flesh
I will love this rock
and that fingernail
I will love the word sacrament
and I will love that window pane
I will love the color maroon
my left eye my wool sweater
this patch of concrete the month of March
the number 12
I will love things I can count
and mark
and touch
I will love people only in safe doses
holding them lightly
prepared to let go
letting go first
so I will not be left
with my broken wings
wrapped tight
I will not rest myself
in someone else’s heart
having the audacity to think
I could spread out
drape my clothes on arteries
hang my family picture on a vein
and fall asleep
to the warm sound of

I will live in my own skin
I will hide in my own skin
I will die in my own skin

my face sheltered so long I
forgot I exist beyond the color
of mere existence
the pain of fingers
poking old rages
and the shadow
of his contradictions

I peel back the slopes
of my face
take in the gravity of my thighs
and the way my eyes
the sky for laughter
I want to open my arms
and gather my never were/might be children
raise them up
the light
reflecting off their mirrored flesh
I will see a thousand mes
broken and birthed
whole and healing
fractured and fiery
and I will unpeel my fist
just a little more
each morning
I will hear
the soft beating
of wings