material elements of some years of the artist’s life or fabric, wood, paint, and strings

Alexis Pauline Gumbs

after “Clown Marionette” by Alma Thomas, circa 1935


matted hair my grandmothers pulled out in their sleep

trees that held their backs

well mixed watercolor tea

and whale intestine

*

white paper i waxed and blackened with every crayon in the box

popsicle sticks i collected the slow way

the blue of candied teeth

and fraying frizzy yarn

*

flannel

clarinet reed

hypercolor

spiral plugged-in phone

*

dayplanner covers

stacked soles of platform shoes

newspaper ink

flatiron cord

*

the jeans i wore until they fell apart

the floors of dorm room nights

the printer acrylic of t-shirt transfers

the ropes that lift the windows

*

glued spines of books

reclaimed church fan handles

blood

cheese

*

photocopied poems

cheryll’s picture frame

markers staining fingers

yard grass

*

letters of invitation

well-maintained forest trails

likes

luggage tags

*

boarding passes

tea stirrers

honey

the word yes

*

blanket sweatpants

houseplant stems

spice mix

mask loops

*

most of the fabric is paper

most of the wood is actually wood

most of the paint is edible

most of the string is still here

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a queer Black feminist love evangelist and an aspirational cousin to all life. Alexis is the author of several books including the forthcoming biography Survival Is a Promise: The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde.
Originally published:
December 11, 2023

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