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Dear Minnie, Dear Ms.

     for Minnie Riperton & Ms. Lucille

This earth

    of the dagger-toothed & hawks,

whose names we know,

taking bones for diamonds,

    full of hair & snakes,

earth eating you, slowly,

    below the sound

    of gold horns.

This earth

    with a jaw in its hand.

Brown-chariot, take-you-home

earth, chew you up

    with the quiet work

of animals & trees, underworld

    churning you through

    the dark engines

    of its appetite. This

earth we opened up

    & buried you in, our

treasure, we miss

you, we miss you

    with all life. This night

we think we will never close

    again. We are pinned open

    like a scientist’s moths

    to leave you there dressed

    in a box & earth around you.

This box earth, coffin

    earth. Teeth earth eat

your chest through, laced

by the wrangle of beetles & worms

    & ants who carry your bright pieces

like market cloth over their heads

    to feed you to the queen

    in the deeper corridors

    of mysteries & dirt.

Trust the queen is you.

Trust the mud is you,

& the soft, silver afro of the dandelion.

Trust the grass-whistle might be

your speech, high as the whistle

of the whale. Trust

we’ll know your shape, whatever species

in you answers when we put our faces

to the dirt & call you by

your old & human name.

from Kingdom AnimaliaFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2011
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Aracelis Girmay Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.