I think poets are people who are like this; for whatever reason you feel psychological exile because you’re always an outsider…Natasha Trethewey
By Natasha Trethewey
I am four in this photograph, standing
on a wide strip of Mississippi beach,
my hands on the flowered hips
of a bright bikini. My toes dig in,
curl around wet sand. The sun cuts
the rippling Gulf in flashes with each
tidal rush. Minnows dart at my feet
glinting like switchblades. I am alone
except for my grandmother, other side
of the camera, telling me how to pose.
It is 1970, two years after they opened
the rest of this beach to us,
forty years since the photograph
where she stood on a narrow plot
of sand marked colored, smiling,
her hands on the flowered hips
of a cotton meal-sack dress.
After Your Death
by Natasha Trethewey
First, I emptied the closets of your clothes,
threw out the bowl of fruit, bruised
from your touch, left empty the jars
you bought for preserves. The next morning,
birds rustled the fruit trees, and later
when I twisted a ripe fig loose from its stem,
I found it half eaten, the other side
already rotting, or—like another I plucked
and split open—being taken from the inside:
a swarm of insects hollowing it. I’m too late,
again, another space emptied by loss.
Tomorrow, the bowl I have yet to fill.