claire pinkston


my daughter

if you must know anything, know that you were born fingerless

and full of ghosts.

I pulled you through the dark meat of my

eye, felt the dull crush of your

head, and when they came to pry the soft

fist from my cheek, I gave myself–you–up

to the deep, my hand between us made ocean.

I confess, I have grown tired of their small mercies.

how many hours did I spend, a girl,

knees dark with water, horse head lowered

to drink? how many men

have pressed foetus to their lips and reveled in my smallness?

I have swallowed the drownings so faithfully, and yet

my mouth has not grown to fit my teeth.

at night, in the city where everyone I love is already

gone, I hum good omens where there is no one left

to hear. o daughter, o exit wound, know

I loved you the only way I knew how.

that I saw the way the ground shifted to make room

for you, and could say nothing. leave no witness.

when they come for me, tell them I didn’t want

my name or any of it.

that I waited years, back splayed open,

wingless and searching–and emerged mother.

Claire Pinkston is a seventeen-year-old biracial Black poet and writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has previously been recognized at the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and is published or forthcoming in Lumiere Review, the B’K, and The Hellebore, among others. She is growing with her poetry. Find her on Twitter @clairespoet!