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by Megan Spencer
sunday morning on the highway
after a breakfast of sweet potatoes and coffee
we drove into a swarm of bees.
a blur on the spring-colored oregon horizon
their tiny bodies smacking the windshield in hundreds
sounded heavy like raindrops
a pulpy mess of yellow grief,
bits of wings and striped centers
adorned the front of the car like confetti
announcing the cost of our escape from this town.
winged things show up in my dreams
a long time ago,
an eagle flew itself into the sliding glass door
slightly open, inches from where I slept.
in my sleepy panic I slammed the door
catching its beautiful wing.
the eagle screeched long and full
its crushed wing, its look of untamed betrayal,
waking me to what my fear had done.
this was a dream, maybe. maybe not
in the sweet detroit night,
the air holds my skin humid and thick
and I am thinking
of what it could have felt like
to send your bones over
to choose that unknowable viridian abyss
to wish yourself a fish
to say forever to the vessels of human violence,
you can’t have me.
how long is the half-life of slavery?
what happens to a body in water?
what kind of mercy is dying?
i have so many questions
so few answers, i am learning
reprieve is always dangerous
but sometimes i imagine
the wilderness at the bottom of the ocean
we who are not afraid of the dark
celebrating the queerness of mermaids.
Megan Spencer is a graduate student in Queer Studies at Oregon State University. Her work focuses on memory and kinship in black women’s literature on slavery. She is a painter and an organizer with the Black Dinosaur Collective. Though currently living in Oregon, she calls Michigan home.