Mick Powell

every summer opens with a cursed and cursive firework
and ends with something decorated in flowers,

like the summer when we were certain we could love
a godless thing, anoint it in the water of our own wanting,

drink it out of its Herculean monster, and never feel
its wrath. that summer, when all we listened to was

the One in A Million album and wished we had died
in the water, our hair wet-black and weighing.

but we didn’t die—our living bodies just bloated
with the angst embodied by black kids whose tongues

grew language, who lived in a world where Aaliyah would never
come back, except in shitty covers and dead-girl cameos,

which neither of us could’ve predicted then, during the summer
when everything was tinged with indigo, even the space

between my fingers as i held them on top of my face
in the backseat of the black pickup truck. and i said

how frightening then and how frightening still, that everyone
we know and everyone we love already resembles a corpse,

already grows orchids up their chests and through their throats,
and you were certain that summer was the only time to dwell

on death; that summer was the only time we would deck
our teenage bodies in all-black and watch the mothers

of our friends beg at the funerals and be told that the sound
couldn’t be called ethereal even when it haunted us,

even when it sounded itself out through the stereo. and i believed it,
that death could be contained to three terribly sunless months.

that, come September, their mothers’ voices couldn’t choir me
into the corner anymore. i believed it until that winter, when

your face, barely flowered, was swallowed in the snow,
the blood coloring it like some odd and mystical river,

how it was almost like you had died in water, the way
we wanted to, and how i missed the funeral just to avoid

your mother and the way she collapsed silently by your casket,
how the sound of it is still a ghost to everyone who heard.


about the writer

mick author photo.jpg

m mick powell is a queer black femme feminist, poet, and professor. Her poems and essays have been published or are forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, The Feminist Wire, Apogee Journal, Nat. Brut, and others. Mick's chapbook "chronicle the body" won Yemassee Journal's second annual chapbook contest and was released in March 2019. She enjoys talking about beauty, bodies, Beyonce, and baked goods. Visit her here: https://www.mickpowellpoet.com.