The Art of Unselfing

The mind’s black kettle hisses its wild
exigencies at every turn: The hour before the coffee
                               and the hour after.

Penscratch of the gone morning, woman
a pitched hysteria watching the mad-ant scramble,
                               her small wants devouring.

Her binge and skin-thrall.
Her old selves being shuffled off into labyrinths,
                               this birdless sky a longing.

Her moth-mouth rabble unfacing
touch-and-go months under winter, torn letters
                               under floorboards,

each fickle moon pecked through with doubt.
And one spoiled onion. Pale Cyclops
                               on her kitchen counter

now sprouting green missives,
some act of contrition; neighbor-god’s vacuum
                               a loud rule thrown down.

Her mother now on the line saying too much.
This island is not a martyr. You tinker too much
                               with each gaunt memory, your youth

and its unweeding. Not everything blooms here
a private history — consider this immutable. Consider
                               our galloping sun, its life.

Your starved homesickness. The paper wasp kingdom
you set fire to, watched for days until it burnt a city in you.
                               Until a family your hands could not save

became the hurricane. How love is still unrooting you.
And how to grow a new body — to let each word be the wild rain
                               swallowed pure like an antidote.

Her mother at the airport saying don’t come back.
Love your landlocked city. Money. Buy a coat.
                               And even exile can be glamorous.

Some nights she calls across the deaf ocean to no one
in particular. No answer. Her heart’s double-vault
                               a muted hydra.

                               This hour a purge

of  its own unselfing.
                               She must make a home of it.

More Poems by Safiya Sinclair