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


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