The profile of someone's face close to the camera, looking ahead
Colby Deal / Magnum

Considering Roe v. Wade, Letters to the Black Body

A poem for Saturday

Dear Highest Price, Dear Bear the Brunt & Double
Blow, Dear HeLa Cells Still Doubling, Dear

Disproportionately Impacted. Dear Anarcha
Without Anesthesia During Surgery with Sims.

Dear Fannie and the Mississippi Appendectomies
with the Sick and Tired Ceaseless Sonnet Crown.

Dear Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis. Dear Black
American Women Are 3 to 4 Times More Likely to Die

in Childbirth Than White Women. To all the Black Babies
sliced from lynched women’s bellies spilling black

jelly then burned as crackled wood singing singe
under silent, white starlight. Dear Unbelieved

Pain. Dear Thick Skin Myth, and Yet, Black Skin
Must Be Thicker. Dear Black Slaves Chewing a Brew

of Cotton Roots as a Form of Reproductive Resistance
Even When Threatened with Death—The Body Strikes.

Dear Alum Water, Teaspoon of Turpentine, Rue,
Camphor, and Chugging Gunpowder Mixed with Sweet

Milk. Dear Black Body That I Adore. Dear Black Body
That I Now Listen to Shimmering with Acute Tenderness.

Look at my mother’s hands. How they search and cut
the thread to take out my weave as if deadheading black

finished blooms from my scalp—what survives in us

is us.