When I was a child
I counted the looper moths
caught in the dusty mesh
of our window screens.
Fed them slowly into the hot mouth
of a kerosene lamp, then watched
them pop and blacken soundlessly,
but could not look away.
I had known what it was to be nothing.
Bore the shamed blood-letter of my sex
like a banishment; wore the bruisemark
of my father’s hands to school in silence.
And here I am, still at the old window
dying of thirst, watching my girlself asleep
with the candle flame alive in my ear,
little sister yelling fire!
SAFIYA SINCLAIR was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her MFA from the University of Virginia. Her first full-length collection, Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), won the 2015 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Callaloo, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She has been awarded a 2015 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from Poetry Magazine, a writing fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Amy Clampitt Residency Award. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California.