Raven Leilani's poem "Isaac" appeared in Issue No. 44: Small.
The lord buckled my mother's knees,
made his debut
as a meiotic shrug
bracketing silver, budding retina.
The lord is always surprising women
that are meant to die.
I lived because my mother rode the train
end to end
to keep warm. I lived
despite the lack of carpenters
in the Bronx, I lived
because in rehab she formed a face
from the sky
that demanded she sacrifice
an improbable child.
So I took my spankings in the church bathroom.
I took my math and social studies
in the room next to the church bathroom,
and once in public school
I was a black girl without rhythm,
prom shoes heavy with bread, blood,
necessary flood, years of communion
assuming dominion of my hips.
There were others, and we pretended
not to see each other in the hallways,
tried to shuck the homeschool from our shoulders.
Then, an apple turned like an eye
and gazed into my mouth
and I colored my lips before sundown,
lived without the lord, like my mother
lived without Joseph. I wondered,
who were these men,
made of air
and amygdala, too aloof
to send a lamb
before the knife was at our throats?
RAVEN LEILANI lives in New York and is pursuing an MFA at NYU. She has been published in Granta, Columbia Literary Journal, Split Lip Magazine, and Psychopomp Magazine. She is a recipient of the Bat City Review Short Story Prize, New Delta Review's Matt Clark Prize for short fiction, Blue Earth Review's Short Fiction Prize, and Narrative Magazine's Annual Poetry Prize. She is the fiction editor of Ruminate Magazine.
This poem appeared in Issue No. 44: Small.
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