hymnal :: hafizah geter

At nine, my father couldn’t stop
placing a shotgun near the temple
of his grandfather, who couldn’t stop
pulling switches from birch trees,
nor unbuckling the unbloomed hips of my aunts,
who now cover their couches in plastic.
Potpourri coats my aunts like wool,
their lips damp in a fever hum of Amens.
By eleven, my father knows the shape of moonshine
in a grown man’s mouth,
cannot remove the rot
that roots my aunts
at the trunk of their grandfather.
Sundays my aunts dress like roses,
wear smiles hard as Baptist pews.
They do their best to catch the spirit,
though he has a sprinter’s legs.

paula :: hafizah geter

Hafizah, when you sleep, a storm suddenly opens its jaw like that ancient dog your neighbors used to beat in front of God and everybody. The wasps duel like prophets and hide their nests in your clothes. Every day your eyes are barefoot. A child could kick the door of you in. So what if you are some kind of Icarus? Sunlight jails itself in your bone. Remember when our eyes were two halves of a locket? And on TV, women were so crazy men had to snatch them by their elbows? You still look like the first time we learned swans were vicious. That year you could carry not even your name. Let’s pretend this grief is possible to initiate when sober. Let’s pretend I am Paula no more. Fact— if you segregate the kingdom by genus you will find the moon bears all the markers of a boarded up fireplace, that the blowflies always find the coyote. In the game of truth, you pick the dare every time.

lottery :: hafizah geter

“It isn’t fair,” she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head.
–Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery”

if the birds were not black
crickets upon
further inspection,

I would wake for the scent
of pine trees.
if the choice were not
always between mercy
or forgiveness,

laundry would dry
completely. if the body was
more than wood jarred
in brine,

the moon would stay
isosceles. if I could diagram
the grammar of a motive,

I could empty
this shoebox. if geometry
were no longer
in the arc but the meter,

i would pray to this round shape
i’ve locked
in my hands.
if the lilies were not
bearing their stamens

like wolves,
is this the only way to be