Look Before You Swallow (after Wengechi Mutu)

Gunfight of hipbone feared nausea
mother’s pinched brown fingers
on the day you get diagnosed
a prophet with a P.H.D.
adds letters to your name
sends sweet holy alprazolam uncured
grabs the pink Cadillac of your throat,
lets Ani Difranco know you have anorexia before you do.
Penny taste of ensure/ echo cafeteria
Who of starved belly, atrophied to ache?
or the ice cream you eat every day, dial-up dinner &
Man Whose Fault It Is, all of them,
face the music
& the music is weeping with the rain,
the college you wish you attended, the professor who said you’d go early, advanced.
Mr. Day and his question about a sunflower, “Is it only one flower? Or is it the potential of every sunflower?”
Were you a sunflower? Prescription-seed,
complex PTSD wouldn’t let you know.
Show us Man Whose Fault It Is-
Forgiveness is dead, and there is no permission to give.

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About the Author

Claire Collins is a queer poet, teaching artist, and co-founder of Poetic Justice, a program that teaches literacy and poetry to incarcerated people. They are of Mohawk, French, and Dutch descent. As a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, they are working to reconnect with Kanien'kéha (Mohawk) Language and literacies. They are currently working on a forthcoming collection of poetry that will be released in April 2024.