Duplex for the Pinkston Name
(After Jericho Brown)

My name is the first thing washed ashore.
I hold still, brace myself for impact. 

        My hands do not still, reminders of impact. 
        My mother learned to think first with her fists.

Thinking with her fists, my grandmother tore
Homes apart. Shrapnel knotted in the kitchen.

        Shrapnel is a tough pill to swallow.
        Despite it all, I learned to live the debris.

Despite it all, I learned to love my debris. 
At night, I bleach the rivers white with ghosts.

        Like all my rivers bleached with ghosts:
        My cousin, eyes rolled into peonies, seizing.

I seize a peony to reduce the swelling.
My name is the last thing washed ashore. 

My Bed, Tracy Emin, 1998

& on TV I rerun 	the rapture, watch 	the water swallow
my wrists 	our faces flickering beyond recognition 
          god, forgive the mess I have made of my life 	forgive
 the matches, forgive the blades, forgive the pills
clinging 	the bedsheets, each capsule a pupiled eye
forgive my body	 its dyings	 the way I circle 
each month	like a gambler hoping 
for a different outcome 	the pitch-dark stain in my underwear
          in ninth grade, C saying, I bought the toughest rope they had 
and it gave out on me	 	I stood out on the tracks 	like light 
to be swallowed 	and couldn’t do it 	we sat very still
so as not to wake the birds	enough		let my arms raise me church
I could spend my life		apologizing but we don’t	 have
that kind of time 	C’s stunned body felled	 back to earth	
as if called	 the fishhook of my body shuddering		 open to rainfall
I want		a garden too wild 	for fear to spoil
I want a love to outlive	 the hurt of my body
I want to wake up 	and find you next to me 	our bed 
still damp with river water, both of us clawed through with dark
         & yet still breathing.

About the Author:

Claire Pinkston is a biracial Black youth poet and writer. Her work has previously been recognized by the Alliance of Young Artists and Writers and the University of Louisville and is published or forthcoming in diode poetry, peach mgzn, and The Offing, among others. She is growing with her poetry.

*Featured image by Goran Tomic