Block by Lisbeth White

for hundreds of years       
    i am given     the gestures of freedom  without birds the hush of  mist   
awakening on my bones      

my marrow is cotton & tobacco
    my body a crop on mornings of mist   it wants to become trees ancient    
as they begin    i make the mist     a prayer for myself

for hundreds of years     i am given    the gestures    of freedom
    my marrow is pith & sebum    my mother would sell me for his     upright
community standing i become tree     turning     down    blossoms list
off my     branches      petals     sidewalk mush     brown

shy already     his eyes slither     to my untrained breasts     in every photo     i have     hair in face & arms
folded    teased for wearing sweatsuits     in the summer    my sister is     bound fear & loose
    nerves whipcracking     in every direction

my marrow is sharecropped    for hundreds of years
    i am given    the gestures of freedom    my body
    sold     by the white woman     who birthed me
  dropped lure     for the brown skin she desired    how close
     did she let him cum    before switching     
    the bait?

for hundreds of years     i am given     the gestures of freedom    storied     escapes     rags    
of early fog & quiet     between tree & tree  holding me close as mist     they
welcome me
    into silhouette     through water     towards    
stars    my marrow     is ferment

i could walk    into these woods    
    & vanish

Contributor Notes

Lisbeth White is a writer and healer. After obtaining her BFA in Creative Writing at University of New Mexico, she hit the Northern California coast to complete her Master’s degree in Expressive Arts Therapy. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Visitant Lit, Winter Tangerine, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, and the upcoming anthology Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California. A 2016 Pushcart prize nominee, Lisbeth is also an alumna of Blue Mountain Center’s residency program as well as VONA and Callaloo Creative Writing workshops. She’s currently part of the Gemini Ink Mentorship with Barbara Ras and completing her first collection, which explores healing the wounds of displacement and trauma within the context of wilderness and connection with the natural world.