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Poem: "The Book of Genesis"

Once I was:
lone brown spot
in a garden

of upright stems
They said
what do you have to say

let your dry lips open
let cocoa powder
rain onto our desks

they stared at me
for six days
as if I were a peach pit

as if by lunchtime
I would be swallowed
into the sandbox

like a dream They led me
to a sink made me
wash my hands in cold oil

I was a temple
angels are watching over
they chanted

until I never slept
my eyes turned purple
with guilt and imagination

they never let me eat
the stale body or fill
my ribs with bitter juice

they led me to an apple tree
I swear to God
told me to sit and wait

until my earrings got heavy
and I could see right through
the whole damn city

these days I think
I can find truth in song
as if it started inside me

these days I think
a powdered rock
could save us

cold oils of a stranger’s tongue
and I sleep with
my hands in little fists

tucked close to my chin
this is the way my people
have slept for years

O garden of soiled light
I believe in
different reasons

Contributor's Note: MORGAN PARKER will join poet Rachelle Toarmino, singer-songwriter Zoe Scruggs and visual artist Zack Boehler in this month's Just Buffalo Silo City Reading Series event at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 22 at Marine A Elevator, Silo City Row, on Ohio St. at Childs St. in Buffalo. She is the author of "There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé" (Tin House Books 2017) and "Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night" (Switchback Books 2015), which was selected by Eileen Myles for the 2013 Gatewood Prize and a finalist for the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award. The recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, she is the creator and host of Reparations, Live! at the Ace Hotel in New York. With Tommy Pico, she co-curates the Poets With Attitude (PWA) reading series, and with Angel Nafis, she is The Other Black Girl Collective. This poem originally appeared in the American Academy of Poets Poem-a-Day feature.

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