BY ARRIEL VINSON
You made a home out of me – snuggled into my body’s crevices – expected me to be shelter – the clothes that clung to you like magnets – the water you sipped on – for quenching – to dry out the river in me. I didn’t know how to say no / make myself less / of a castle and more of a cave / cloaked in darkness / too sturdy to tumble / to seep / into you. You made a home – is where the heart is – is me for you – where is mine? – somehow signed my bones away – never gave you permission – to take // I take back – three words – with my hands cup them – once velvet – shove them back in my mouth like a meal – let regret awaken my taste buds – feel them struggle down my throat – rumble in my belly like drums – occupy – I tell them stay – never leave again // leave me alone – the key please / give me back mine / house / please give me back my home.
mama and grandma find a new place after the white lady buys us out our home
the one my great grandma owned our legacy we get an apartment small as one floor of the old house I make friends with brown girls go to Saturday fiestas with Jesus hanging on their wall tapestry the color of a Midwest sunset Virgin Mary on the end table
while her family gets drunk while my mama works grandma blocks the door with a gold metal stopper people breaking in cars over here blood clots in nostrils phlegm thick as soot brown stuff been growing ’round the tub grandma scrapes it off mama ain’t got time to worry gotta provide the roof for us in walls like moss its own soil landlord won’t tear it out we stay wonder if it’s growing large as the rent mold grabs me by its teeth tosses me like a disk mama says we have to go grandma stops scraping blood rolls back into my nose we can breathe again
Arriel Vinson is an Indiana native who writes about being young, black, and in search of freedom. She is an MFA Fiction candidate at Sarah Lawrence College and received a B.A. in Journalism from Indiana University. Her poetry won third place prize in LUMINA Journal, judged by Donika Kelly, and she has had essays/articles published in Blavity, The LaLa, HuffPost and more.