be water-bridge / we be water
by Jacqui Germain
we drip, we soak, we give
the ocean its wave and its hurricane.
we beyond graves, beyond fire. we pull back
so hard on the rope we lift the tree.
we make homes with the dirt, play kitchen
with the brittle brown silk that held our bones
like jewels. we quilt syntax into tapestry.
we get drunk on the Atlantic,
suck whole seas into our mouths
just to see if it’s seasoned right.
we make a party of it, dance at the bottom of the ocean
and shift the earth’s shoulder blades with our heels.
we bend now and don’t break.
our backs bend and pretzel and corkscrew,
loop and loop and don’t break.
our hair curl and straight and sing.
our knees kneel and straighten and sing. we still cry,
be water-bridge between here and history,
between tomorrow and the free-est
forever. we water our way back home, always.
our lips pink and so full of extra consonants,
loose language glinting off our teeth, diamonds
in our molars, making all our ghost-voices
run out into the world covered in the sweetest,
blackest kind of rich. we okay here. we good.
we still cry but if we gotta be gone—we shouldn’t
be gone—but if we gotta be gone like this,
the way they make black do, at least
we made this
here good, too.
List 5 things that you’ve lost. These can be literal or abstract—people, objects, memories, pieces of clothing, baby teeth, sleep, productivity, patience or whatever else you’d like.
Pick 3 of those things. Below each one, list imaginary places those things might exist now. No need to be realistic. If you’ve lost your patience for something, where has that patience run off to? If you lost a sock the last time you did laundry, where might it exist now?
Choose 1 thing from the list above and write a poem in which that thing is much, much happier wherever it exists now. Write a poem where the lost thing throws a party to celebrate being lost. Is there music? A feast? Who does the lost thing invite? How does it celebrate?
Jacqui Germain is a published poet and journalist living and working in St. Louis, MO. She has received fellowships from the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission, Jack Jones Literary Arts, Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and the Poetry Foundation’s Emerging Poets Incubator. Most recently, Germain was selected as the inaugural poet for PSA:, a St. Louis-based public art project featuring original text installed on the broadside of a building. Her poems have been published in multiple literary journals in addition to being anthologized in Bettering American Poetry, Volume 3; The End of Chiraq: A Literary Mixtape; and Crossing the Divide, an anthology of St. Louis poets. And her critical essays, culture writing, and reported articles have been published in The Nation, VICE, Artsy, The New Inquiry, The Establishment, and elsewhere. Author of When the Ghosts Come Ashore (Button Poetry, 2016), Germain is also a contributing writer for ALIVE Magazine and theSTL.com, and poetry editor for december magazine.