waiting on you to die so i can be myself

a thousand years of daughters, then me.
what else could i have learned to be?

girl after girl after giving herself to herself
one long ring-shout name, monarchy of copper

& coal shoulders. the body too is a garment.
i learned this best from the snake angulating

out of her pork rind dress. i crawl out of myself
into myself, take refuge where i flee.

once, I snatched my heart out like a track
& found not a heart, but two girls forever

playing slide on the porch in my chest.
who knows how they keep count

they could be a single girl doubled
& joined at the hands. i’m stalling.

i want to say something without saying it
but there’s no time. i’m waiting for a few folks

i love dearly to die so i can be myself.
please don’t make me say who.

bitch, the garments i’d buy if my baby
wasn’t alive. if they woke up at their wake

they might not recognize that woman
in the front making all that noise.

Danez Smith, “waiting on you to die so i can be myself” from Homie. Copyright © 2020
by Danez Smith. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of
Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, graywolfpress.org.

This poem was originally read in the This Movie Changed Me episode Danez Smith — The Color Purple.