Forgive what remains when a dress is emptied. Forgive
it in the blue dress. Forgive its fullness filling the breath
of doorway, always watching, warning you to keep
your skinny behind away from the street. Forgive the gap
that separates front teeth and lets a bit of tongue free
when speaking. Forgive the bowl of belly that couldn’t fill
with child so it found you in a foster home in Texas. Forgive
that your first craving was for arms, the way you ran to find them.
Forgive the smell of left shoulder. Forgive skin the color
of slightly browned, pan-dripped gravy, the complexion
that gave you away to strangers. Forgive hands that wielded
hot comb, fingers that rubbed on Vaseline when heat clipped
your ears, fingers that threw cigarette butts into cold coffee,
fingers that gave you alphabet, put pencil back in your hand,
told you to try your name again. Forgive it when it’s made
of sweat and calloused feet, overtime, and another white lady
telling it what it did wrong. Forgive it at a desk making
paychecks stretch for milk and bread and heat this month.
Forgive it singing Luther Vandross too loud in department stores.
Forgive it when shrinks next to men. Forgive it on its knees.
Forgive when it’s a busted vase on the living room floor.
Forgive that it’s connected to mandible, to clavicle, to ribs,
connected to all things that break if hit hard enough.
Forgive that it’s often mistaken for something to be fucked or kept
waiting. Forgive that you are always walking into the room
of it, that you fill it with dreaming, with words.
KRYSTEN HILL is an educator, writer, and performer who has showcased her poetry on stage at The Massachusetts Poetry Festival, Cantab Lounge, Merrimack College, U35 Reading Series, Mr. Hip Presents, and many others. She received her MFA in poetry from UMass Boston, where she currently teaches. Her work can be found in Muzzle, PANK, Winter Tangerine Review, apt, Amethyst Arsenic, Damfino Press, ROAR, and Write on the DOT. Her forthcoming chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out, will be released by Aforementioned Productions in 2016.