Sarah Myles Spencer

REMEDY FOR A LONG WINTER

sarah myles spencer

 
 


In the quietest purple is where you can find me. Some days singing with all my teeth. Some days gurgling a blood tune. The doctor's scrawl tries to explain the dirty dishes and the missing socks, the black gut grief, and the shriveling laughter. My sons and daughter swing wildly from orange pill bottles and vials of blood stamped with my name. My husband holds my hand among rows of blue boned smiles, a lingering smell of sick on fresh sheets. My father is a hospital room where none of the latex gloves fit. My mother, a string of soap bubbles and un-weary limbed celebration. Me, daughter; swollen bellied city tenement, eyelids stretching, sweet gravel song. Me, mother; joy full of small toothbrushes and cracked playground slides, a young hope waking. I still pray and pray and pray. curl closer to every fear. Eat them bite by bite, like waffles on Sunday morning. Laugh real loud the whole way.

 

WHAT THE BODY KNOWS

I am not sorry. 
I took the joy

with the anguish. 

I made it
what I could. 

This clay

ain't what it used to be.
The bolts clatter and clang,

and survive. 

I carried myself here, 
to this relucent moment. 

I carried myself 

through each heavy war, 
limbs outstretched in the storm. 

This home,

constantly breaking,
and healing too.

What miracle, 

a scaly bird, uncoiling
from its tender nest, 

a soft animal

emerging from a sunless
den. On the good days,

I thank myself.

When I am not on
all fours clawing, 

not lamenting 

the architecture of these
bones; this vessel,

with its lupus,

this tenement of arthritic
joints. The blurred vision

and the glaucoma 

before thirty, and the dozen
more tongue twisting

maladies lined up 

in my skin like a drum
line, steady beating.

I say thank you, 

in the quiet of forgiveness,
in the still thrumming

morning of my own chest.

Thank you, bright mirror
Thank you, perfect heart;
Thank you for carrying me
forward.

Thank you for letting me
fight, and live,

and wake another day

to smell my children's skin,
to wash my baby's hair,
to kiss my husband's neck,
to still see it,

despite the blur.
To still see it,

that much clearer.
 

 

AN EXERCISE IN MELANIN

 

Brown girl, wide eyed and wanting,
Sits with her hands folded, lips pressed firm.
Does not respond to the whistles;
The cat calls of men, loud and liquored.

Sits with her hands folded, lips pressed firm,
While her fingers count the steps from each exit,
And the cat calls of men, loud and liquored.
Says a silent prayer, nothing extravagant,

While her fingers count the steps from each exit,
And her toes flex and stretch, ready to run.
She says her silent prayer, nothing extravagant.
No time to ask for anything, but to live;

Her toes flex and stretch, ready to run now.
Brown girl holds her body like a shovel, digs in.
There is no time to ask for anything, but to live;
Too many mouths demanding a handful.

Brown girl holds her body like a shovel, digs in.
A man reaches, cups her ass in his uninvited hand.
There are too many mouths demanding a handful;
Eyes leering down the front of her shirt, conquering.

The man still reaching, cupping her ass in his uninvited hand.
Say yes, say sit proper, say skirt below knees, say respectable,
While eyes leer down the front of your shirt, conquering.
Say don’t know when to say no, don’t know how to clamp mouth.

Say yes, say sit proper, skirt below knees, respectable.
Do not respond to the whistles, brown girl,
Do not give them any reason to keep reaching, stay
Brown girl, stay, wide eyed, wanting.


Sarah Myles Spencer is a mama, poet, singer/songwriter who’s worked with a variety of artists, including Snoop Dog, E-40, and (the late) Davy Jones. A multi-time Best of the Net Nominee and Pink Door Fellow, her work appears in Drunk in a Midnight Choir, A La Palabra: The Word is a Woman Anthology – Mothers & Daughters, Words Dance Magazine, Requiem Magazine, and more.