after Tracey Emin, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995
sunday, and the dogs outside won’t stop
howling, an animal grief. I, too, miss my mother.
I miss the gentle throb of rain against
a window, the way she held
me, her gentle hands giving me away
to sleep. our shadows sharked onto the wall like
talismans against the dark. I did not know, then,
to be afraid, and I carried myself accordingly,
loved beyond necessity, ate until I was full.
that was before I grew into this body, its borrowed
curves, its inherited pain. before the world opened up
to me like a gunmetal flower, and everything afterward
was paid in blood. I am still someone’s
child. I forget this sometimes. someone outside yells stop
the clocks. I want to agree but I can’t find
my tongue. my flesh echoing
and echoing. at night, I practice drowning, invest
in the ritual of my body. my hair inked against
the surface of the bedsheet like a departed
shadow. I learn transformation in
sweat, again and again. how easily breath
becomes water. how quietly a body is lost
Claire Pinkston is a biracial Black poet studying at Yale University. Her work has previously been recognized by the YoungArts foundation and the University of Louisville and is published in diode, Palette Poetry and The Offing, among others. She is growing with her poetry.