RUMPUS POETRY BOOK CLUB EXCERPT by Courtney Faye Taylor

By

An excerpt from The Rumpus Poetry Book Club‘s December selection,
CONCENTRATE by Courtney Faye Taylor
forthcoming from Graywolf Press on November 1, 2022

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Aunt Notrie died in the t-shirt & tummy of
the man in the middle of America;~ was cervical, o-
varian? one of the southern cancers;~ like the last

blast of eczema, she left a considerable
itch in her dying;~ obese grief nursed on me
like a satin leech;~ xanax, a holy host, a

nimble quilt;~ her favorite color

was silk, which was not also her
favorite feeling;~ thank the Black redeemer
it was me;~ urine running

clear for weeks;~ snatching a fist-
ful of denim to uproot a cameltoe but
with it coming the bush unburning;~ being

colored is cooling hands down the sweats

of OJs;~ it is, with Raid, watching
roaches undergo an entertaining
petrifaction;~ learning how one strand of my

kinks & a pride of centipedes
curl close when they just
through, honey;~ this finality, finally

I welcome it—its lucid birth, litigious
burst;~ Aunt Notrie died in me like some
withered Dooney & Bourke, like

the burnt rind of a lemon;~ life-insured but
“daughter of Shango” was / is her most
preexisting condition;~ seven years

ago today, my stretch marks made the laughlines

of a leftist markswoman;~ my hips, two white
liars;~ ya’ll ’member waybackback when we
wore wristwatches & earth ran on individually

set time?;~ Aunt Notrie drove me to three
Burger Kings just to get that Susie
Carmichael watch that glowed mauve

in the bath suds, so I been knew my
kind could amphibian a way through
white disaster;~ Auntie’s tolerance

for smoke, five-hearted as beige earth-
worms, but ma’am;~ what smoke needed
was consequence;~ what it needed

was harm back

for harming;~ whiteness escaped it;~ this
ghetto of angels will not;~ grief is the master
of what happens;~ what girl of color survives

what happens?

***

Excerpt from “Paradise” from Concentrate. Copyright © 2022 by Courtney Faye Taylor. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.


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