Like Church

Natalie Diaz
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My lover comes to me like darkfall—long,

and through my open window. Mullion, transom.

A good window lets the outside participate.

I keep time on the hematite clocks of her shoulders.

And I’ve done so much of it—time. Her right hip-

bone is a searchlight, sweeping me, finds me.

I’ve only ever escaped through her body. What if

we stopped saying whiteness so it meant anything.

For example, if you mean milk of magnesia say

milk of magnesia, or snow, or they’ve hurt another

one of us, or the way the quarter-moon is a smoke

atop the dirty water, or the pearline damp she laces

up my throat, my face. Mi caracol. They think

brown people fuck better when we are sad.

Like horses. Or coyotes. All hoof or howl. All

mouth clamped down in the hair, on the neck,

slicked with latherin. You ask, Who is they?

even though you know. You want me to name

names. Shoot, we are named after them. You think

my creator had heard of the word Natalie? Ha!

When he first made me he called me, Snake

then promised the afterlife would be reversed,

south turned north, full with tight watermelons.

Pluck one melon and another melon grows

in its place. But it’s hard, isn’t it? Not to perform

what they say about our sadness, when we are

always so sad. It is real work to not perform

a fable. Just ask the turtle. Ask the hare.

Remind yourself and your friends: Sometimes

I feel fast. Sometimes I am so slow. Sometimes

I get put down in the street. Always I win

the wound they hang on my chest. Remind

yourself, your friends. They are only light because

we are dark. If we didn’t exist, it wouldn’t be long

before they had to invent us. Like the light switch.

Yes, our Creator says Kingdom and we come.

Remind our friends. We fuck like we church—

best. And full of god, and joy, and sins, and

sweet upside-down cake. And when they ask me,

What’s in your love’s eyes? I tell them. Wild water-

melons, green-on-green striped. She and I, we eat

the watermelon, starting at its thick sugar-heart,

hold the beady seeds in our mouths like new eyes

and wait for them to leap open and see us first.

This poem is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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