After Effie White

if i told you what my mother escaped you would not believe me and she would be no freer for it. my mother been a good god but wound all her divine around a wedding ring for the sake of her children. lettin go of a man who don’t love you the way he should is exfoliation. snakes unwrap themselves to remove parasites and bodies they’ve outgrown. the first morning in her new skin

a clean house. my mother rose with three children worth of golden stretch lines. rose mahogany dripping in feathers. a phoenix from bruise splattered ashes. rose first sunlight glistening over wrinkles of snow-covered earth. rose from a wooden bed frame crucifixion. rose sick of his shit said forget you and the force from bottom lip folded ffff shatters a mirror inside the ottoman

ruin is the relic of a man whose name we no longer speak. she’s known destruction for 18 years. this time everything will fracture except for her. she sashays past a bedroom door yanked off its hinges. boulder pushed away from its tomb. call this the start of a new religion. oh holy be the maiden name on the tongue of a liberated woman. oh blessed is this carpenter knelt in the foyer

changing the front door locks so that she might praise in peace. dreamgirls soundtrack traipses softly out of the stereo while she, the whole tenor section, is center stage in the final round of a talent competition. she is main stage at festival thrown in her own honor. singing about her perfect man. and then Perfectman bursts into the house during the bridge. while Jennifer Hudson

plays background vocals to my mother’s solo. perfectman rolls in on cue. all grin made of polished ivory. all shiny black dancin’ shoes creased at the toe. no stranger to the getdown. all glowing red suit loud as a siren. gift bag big as a two-car garage brimming with chocolate covered peanuts for all the valentine’s days he missed. perfectman with palms of chiffon silk.

fingers with no knuckles. He could not make a fist if he wanted to. he bursts through the same door my father was police-escorted out of just last night. perfectman tumbles in, without knocking, baring a truckload of tiger lilies. floats past shattered plates to meet my mother’s barely human glide without missing a step they twirl into a cinnamon colored blur in our living

room. through a tornado of dizzying laughter. she warns that her soon-to-be ex-husband will stop paying the mortgage. but he, the perfect man, has already built a whole city for her. he invites her to a world where nothing breaks. eternal nights of sweaty dancing in her new metropolis. on her way out, my god my weightless beam of joy catches her reflection in a cracked window whispers. i love you, i do.

Darius Simpson

Darius Simpson is a writer, educator, performer, and skilled living room dancer from Akron, Ohio. He was a recipient of the 2020 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, American Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review and others. Darius believes in the dissolution of empire and the total liberation of all oppressed people by any means necessary.