i just don’t think we should subject our bodies to the violence that beckons outside
& i could be speaking of the hood
that perfect land of sweet milk & bruise
that birthed every nigga i care about most or i could be
speaking of wherever the sun is vengeful & keen
on squeezing from the skin what it is owed for all these
years of verve & fantastic light but truly,
i am speaking, this time, of the sprawling white
tundra & the lonely ghosts we shield ourselves from
with the soft feathers of some gone & ruined animal,
the ghosts who are hungry to pull what warmth
we have managed to keep in our mouths & bundled
in our necks & i get it: God sings through cracks
in the foliage until something more sinister
takes his place but just how am i to face
my children when they arrive, when they ask for the name
of the good river from which they were dragged
to be here & in such sudden need of protection?
who were you thinking of, really, they’ll ask,
when everything is so eager to draw blood?
BERNARD (he/him) is a Bahamian immigrant poet, an MFA candidate at NYU, a Writers in the Public Schools fellow, and an Assistant Editor at Washington Square Review. He’s the winner of the 2019 Hurston/Wright College Writers Award, the 2019 92y Discovery Contest, the 2019 Nâzım Hikmet Poetry Prize, and an Adroit Journal Gregory Djanikian Scholar. He has had work published or forthcoming in The Paris Review, The Common, SLICE Magazine, Nashville Review, Winter Tangerine, and the Best New Poets 2017 anthology, among others. He wants to hear about all your wonder.