Safia Elhillo

Summer Triangle

after Laura Christensen

i formed a body of clay around
a clot of dried blood !10! !25! i formed

a body of dirt & water !25! i formed
a body of water around red earth &

cracked clay  i formed a body polluted
by want    most of it not mine      i formed

a body purified by name    washed
in the white water of my grandfather’s blind

left eye        washed with my grandmother’s
feet in ablution      i formed a body to be left

behind     to be unzipped & discarded   to return
to perfumed aunts       arranged in jagged

sleep    waking only to tie systems of jasmine
into my torn hair     i formed a body suspended

in utterance      named & undone & named
again     girl  !10! !5! lacuna   specter   throat

throat  !5![say it]   !5! bloodstain !10!!5!  sheet     [name it]
i formed  a body darkened by blood     the moon

tugging its irons from my shameful parts    i formed
a body & swam      !5! inelegant laps in rising water

temperate as the first womb     & always ships
darkening the banks like blood !5!  & always

water dividing the world     !5! god’s country
clotting out between my legs like silk

Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017), which received the the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and a 2018 Arab American Book Award. She holds an MFA from The New School, a Cave Canem Fellowship, and a 2018 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. In addition to appearing widely in journals and anthologies, her work has been translated into several languages and commissioned by Under Armour and the Bavarian State Ballet. With Fatimah Asghar, she is co-editor of the anthology Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019).
MORE POEMS
  • Coda
    Simone Muench & Jackie K. White