National Poetry Month Day 22: r. erica doyle





What I learned

Why was there even
An axe in the house
there were thorns to prune
In the garden but
Why was the axe
In the house?

Was it in the closet
With the rifle?
I don’t know –

But when he chased you 
With the axe
And you ran screaming to the back – 
Towards the library – 
Towards the basement – 
Going to hide
Going out the back door– 


She stopped him.
Stood between 
for the first time


And for a thousand years waited
Til the arm was soft 
Til he took the blade down
Til you sighed like the rabbit
Pinned by the dog and released

This was how
I learned
She would not
Let him 
Kill us



Author photo courtesy of author

r. erica doyle was born in Brooklyn to Trinidadian immigrant parents. Her debut collection, proxy, won the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America and was a Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry. Her current project, A Dreadful Mortality, explores genealogy, revolution, and intergenerational healing, and excerpts have recently appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day and Letters from The Future: Black Women/Radical Writing. Her work has been published various journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry, Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Gay and Lesbian Writing, and Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam. She lives in New York City. More from this author →