Hafizah Geter

family plot



my father says he’s sorry

carries a shovel


for a grave

he can’t help dig


we bury only women here


he points

counts bodies piling up


my father leaves me

leaves me

only hands—


gravel dry


callused heirlooms


two bruises that have begun


to take my mother up

She had no corners though the world was flat—



You don’t know what a suitcase is

until you understand your mother


115 pounds

hollowed out—so much room

to fold


your clothes

inside her

Who could survive


the tenderness

of a kitchen,


my sister

angry once



I’m still young enough to destroy

a marigold and be


forgiven, my father wakes

to take care

of me again


What would I do

to you

if my sister left,


took her son

and painted red

all over the garden





HAFIZAH GETER is a South Carolina native currently living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and a recipient of a 2012 Amy Award from Poets & Writers. Her poems have appeared in BOXCAR Poetry Review, RHINO, Drunken Boat, Columbia Poetry Review, New Delta ReviewMemoriousLinebreak, and Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art.