issue 12 FEATURE: ARISA WHITE
From the James Tate Tribute
KNOW THY LONELY GIRL
You crawled inside me
and the wind was kept from you.
We were never swept away.
I was a different kind of hiding place.
Who was who among the stripes and lepers?
The moment I stepped from the pack, you felt
the bandage rip off. Easily spotted now, I walk
steady across the kitchen floor, and lighting the pilot
is the god who reveals herself with this kind of privacy.
Call this the place where thy lonely girl is found.
I confirm for her she is true. My eyes survive her gaze—
even in the company of others, we’re just archipelago.
Lonely Girl has no drama for spilled milk.
She is not a dandelion, and there’s no need
to punish loneliness. Those who try to break her
from solitude use her as practice for their own girl—
they cannot muscle the pain they’ve walled within her,
can’t stomach the girl they have and so greedy-to-the-bone—
their mouths shaped into that vowel for sucking and their
canines point at the girl who is new to your flame.
Arisa White received her MFA from UMass, Amherst. She's a Cave Canem fellow and author of Black Pearl, Post Pardon, Hurrah’s Nest, and A Penny Saved. A 2013-14 recipient of an Investing in Artist Grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation and a regional representative for Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color, Arisa is a BFA faculty member at Goddard College. Her third full-length collection, you’re the most beautiful thing that happened, is forthcoming from Augury Books in fall 2016.