A History of Houses Built Out of Spite

none of us know Amy personally, but she’s here & she’s singing / rising above our sodden heads bowed in something like prayer / maybe // most of us are trying to move enough to pretend she doesn’t remind us of our mothers & Sunday morning spring cleans / the sharp bleached smell of it, the shrill peak of their voices demanding something far less beautiful // we’re trying not / to think of mothers who mostly whisper now // or girls who looked away & uninvited us from sleepovers // even though they were smiling the whole time, or the last time that we were here / how it felt the same when we got home after // it as in everything // the same as in worse / you gotta move sometimes / when you’re stuck in the middle of it, that’s the philosophy we’re buying into here / using drink tickets we bought at the dollar store & / tucked into bras & ace bandages & sagging back pockets // you gotta move // your body a last resort /occupying unceded space // the only thing that’s ever belonged to you & half the girls here have called that into question // girls only because that’s how you get in here / in here just because of the girls / because here is nowhere & here lives the only god that thinks our wetness akin to holy water / that answers / to the tense-bodied hallelujahs escaping mouths we thought / had forgotten how to form them // us broken daughters & all our pieces jangling // all strobe light, sweat & saxophone // when Amy died / we danced off the sorrow we knew / our mothers would shed / split their self-satisfied smugness // between us like a quarter // we tucked a backbeat under / a promise of an always love / used those tickets to buy into that sacred oath in mezzo-soprano //& we moved to it right into it // cause that’s what the fuck you do // our love been a losing game, Amy // we know the power of no / no // no // even when it was the wrong thing / & we know we belong here / maybe not everywhere / but that’s what nowhere is for / & here we are / in the middle of it // besides / it’s different for us / us as in                            everyone//different as in                        the same.

Chimwemwe Undi, “A History of Houses Built Out of Spite,” from The Rusty Toque, Issue 11. Copyright © 2016 by Chimwemwe Undi. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: The Rusty Toque (Issue 11, November 30, 2016)