after Danez Smith

America, even when you sing
bombs bursting / in air
I know there is a good, Milky Way

God, reversed / & paralleled. A sweet
Orion eye ringed to our ears. An arrow towards,
just for Black girls who never got to stay

with the same name. We always look / good
in an ivory-skinned summer, in a river-washed

gown. Death is the darkest / hour for those who live,
thinking they don’t belong here as a criminal,

as a savior, as a skull sibling or an Earth return,
as a daughter & a dove. I’m never / alone

even when I’m in the mouth of sharks, cus
I’m kin / to serpents. We retrieve our supper

to shed new shields. Almighty worlds, islands
of misfit / men & menaces. You can have some

place & never find my Heaven. I am home
in the arms of the armed. I am / home in thee,

mouthes of mothers. I am home / and no one

is afraid to end. You will always be my subject,
Black Heaven, Black people: never without / wings.

Stephanie’s Daughter, 2021, Roslindale, MA, from On Learning How to Live in collaboration with UnBound Bodies Collective. Courtesy the author

Golden (they/them) is the author of A Dead Name That Learned How to Live and the photographic self-portraiture series On Learning How to Live. They currently live in Boston, MA on the land of the Massachusett people.
Originally published:
July 11, 2022


10 Ways Ms., Sassy, and Jezebel Changed Your Life!

How contradiction drove fifty years of feminist media
Maggie Doherty

How Emily Wilson Reimagined Homer

Her boldly innovative translation of the Iliad is an epic for our time
Emily Greenwood

In the Shallows

Why do public intellectuals condescend to their readers?
Becca Rothfeld

You Might Also Like

Akron State of Mind

Did I betray my friends by moving to the suburbs?
William Evans


Black Hauntology: An Introduction

The ghosts that endure
Phillip B. Williams


Sign up for The Yale Review newsletter and keep up with news, events, and more.