I wore an eyelet dress and called you my man

When I loved you at the first, I spoke Gullah again
Plantains and yams and cassava words
my teeth were crisp, aware of my tongue
my lips got fat spread across the words diced out in bites of moonlight
my throat carried an old way of loving you
from someplace we were before
there was sun stuck in the trees and no salt in the water and lilacs
there were lilacs and
we still knew how to eat breadfruit
and had no need to bother with the flatness of queen’s English
this language of wood, of rust and broken things
Loving you now is heard only in a drone song from the dust
imminent and still
A dialect of the familiar
I pull fire from beneath my skin out of my mouth
The way you used to pull hummingbirds from between my thighs
My blood is honey in your hands
There is more breath than time
more alive than extinct but we chose the bitter way knives cut into rotten fruit
and don’t fuss over the sorrow of ants

Lauren Nicole is a Detroit native who writes poetry and short stories about whatever it means to be living a black woman story these days. She is the winner of the Agnes Bruenton award for poetry and the Tompkins award for fiction given by Wayne State University.