Passing

I was twelve before I realized my father wasn’t white,
until then I thought nothing
of his clay colored skin, eyes dripping
like honey or ropes of black licorice hair
snaking alive and furious down his back.
My breasts sprung early, hips splayed
wide as an overeager invitation
with bones pushing unforgiving
against my own skin, pale and quiet
as the illness. You took me to Radio Shack,
your syrupy southern drawl wrapping like a shy gift
around the simple words,
My wife put something on hold,
and the young clerk, not a decade older than me,
looked at both of us with blatant disgust,
loathing and a shot of envy
even I could sniff out, like a dog
or a wild thing.

Is this your wife? he asked, and my chest
was in a painful awakening of an instant
freakishly large, my hips
unable to slam shut, and you
too stunned to be ashamed or angered just whispered,
That’s my daughter before walking out, the snakes gone still,
but for the years I’m too sorry to take back,
the years until the cancer sucked you dry,
I felt it for both of us,
felt it in my thighs built like a horse
and my lips too ripe for a child,
in every year after labor heavy year
I refused to be seen with you, I’m so sorry
that I saw you gut, punched and ugly as a man.

Jessica Tyner

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About Ijagun Poetry Journal

Ijagun Poetry Journal is a quarterly journal that provides a platform from which we can tell our own stories in the authenticity of their multiplicity through the poetic medium. We don’t want to hear these stories from our master “griots” alone; we want to hear from those mastering their art, too. Hence, we aim at publishing new and emerging poets. We also welcome the works of established poets in order to encourage the poetic genius of those mastering poetic art. We prize original works that conform to, break or reinvent conventions. Again, we accept reviews and critical essays on poetry. We also accept powerful art works and photographs that make us appreciate the "poetry" in everything.
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