sounds like the family of cardinals- or the grief of lightening we survive together and still mundane- the walks from home. the movies. grocery store or dinner table. the vastness of it all. the field of horses behind my apartment that bring me to a pause. can’t see the face but I know something is exhaling when the grass bends. I stopped being flexible years ago. my body was trying to warn me- the cracking joints. the whistling through the archeology of my wisdom teeth; never removed them. they no longer bring me pain. there’s a new tooth in this new environment that aches sometimes. there was a new boo and a new bae before my mother became the new ellipses. I walk away from unwanted conversations now. had a favorite bar and they changed the dress code after it reopened. a man flirted just to embarrass me, and my, it’s the new tongue from the spices I learned to digest for me. I’d rather the hand knotted around my throat, though, that would’ve required admitting he wanted me there. just not like this. whatever this meant to him. I wanted to leave but not the way I was going to. the way my mother did. I don’t go to that bar anymore- I fall face forward. learned to pull chamomile from my ears: the lesions on my face have a place to rest. the rest of the residue on my fingertips are just cinnamon and wax. I lick the reminders until I forget the taste.
January 23, 2019
we lost each other a lot. I returned afraid she’d catch the whiff of fruit flies dipped in the keloids reopening from my abdomen as I entered the care center- a place where the sweet and decadent go too rest. She didn’t have to say much, as if a stroke would keep her from speaking. there’s a groove more prominent than the fingers that press mine when I rub my belly. my taste comes from Her. the neo- soul slides through her scalp and into my headphones. I haven’t stepped foot in a church since I burned out loud but I still know what a praise dance is. my brother and I were trying to preserve her laughter. She was fighting through the pain of the bloated and cracked, dragged through cotton and wood. I sung one of her favorite throwbacks. you see, that picture of us smiling was us squaring up.
Joshua Merchant (they / them, he / him) is a Black Queer native of East Oakland, CA exploring what it means to be human as an intersectional being. What they’ve been exploring as of late has been in the realm of loving and what it means while processing trauma. They feel as though as a people, especially those of us more marginalized than others, it has become too common to deny access to our true source of power as a means of feeling powerful. A collective trauma response if you will. However, they’ve come to recognize with harsh lessons and divine grace that without showing up for ourselves and each other, everything else is null and void. Innately, everything Merchant writes is a love letter to their people. Because of this, they’ve had the honor to witness their work being held and understood in literary journals such as 580Split, Eleven Eleven, and The Rootwork Journal.