Photo of X, 1997: Something Not Right – by Faylita Hicks

I had been wondering if I was a girl—or a boy or just broken—
reaching down into myself with a marker. Fix yourself.
Momma found me nagging a dictionary & she came—a yawning

Beluga whale self-launched into the air, her nightdress a white flame
pushed up against the flaps of her breast—momma came for me.
Her lopsided curls—coiled garden snakes unraveling as she flew

from my door to myself & the puddle I made
with my questions on the floor. She screeched & a leather face—
like a strip of land—kissed my neck; assuaged my back; bitter. Tight.

nicked the peach behind my knee. My skin hushed itself
into a hum of red & it was the first time I considered bleeding
beautiful. Arching global—I opened.

It was as I thought it might be—transcendent. I said: fix yourself.
But she had to know. There was no fixing myself now.

Faylita Hicks is a black queer writer whose manuscript was a finalist in the 2018 Yes Yes Books Open Reading Period, a finalist in the 2018 Cosmonaut Avenue Annual Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2018 PEN American Writing for Justice Fellowship. Her debut book, HoodWitch, is forthcoming Fall 2019 with Acre Books. Her poetry and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming in Slate Magazine, HuffPost, POETRY MagazineKweli Journal, The Rumpus, The Cincinnati Review, Tahoma Literary Review and others. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College’s Low Residency program and lives in San Marcos, TX while working on a memoir.

Art: Ruby-throated and Hungry, acrylic, marker, and soft pastels on 36×36 inch canvas
Artist Statement: The title for my painting “Ruby-throated and hungry” comes from a line in one of my poems that grapples with my own mother wound, which is partly why it felt resonant with Hicks’ piece. I feel the action of her poem in my chest. Violent and chaotic like the army of lines in the painting, and yet insistent in both is a quality of peace amid the storm, hushing into a “hum of red,” “bleeding beautiful,” and “arching global,” leaving us all a little more “opened.”