Image: Pharoah Egbuna (Durham, NC)

Poem: Rashida James-Saadiya (Durham, NC)

I’m not seeing

they live here
under skin
embedded in bone   
a constant reminder

there are white jackets
lurking beyond your door

don’t move

they will smell you
sense your difference
cut you open
place diagrams
around your pain  

neglect the wounds
your mother left
the voices
hanging from your ear

whole or broken
neurosis spreads

unwanted beauty
they will drown you

paint over the sadness
stitch the cracks  
fill the hard to reach
with short-term mending

stay here
covered in darkness
quiet the memories
that hang from your chest

rock the pain away

madness is contagious
they build cages for things like you

but dear heart were born with wings
leave the harshness of this sun
for the freedom of the rain
leap forward, create a new world
own the wisdom of your beauty
be resilient, be free