On my right big toe, the Braille reads
an expiration date. My finger palpates
the whitish, peach skin, crusted
from forgotten exfoliation.
posture: knees outward, halfway yoga
poised on a hospital gurney, splits
between breaths, legs, systolic and hyper-
bolic. Casket sharp.
Don’t deny skin-scripts,
lying legible serifs. I feel the language
of those who come up missing, that thin
reel of lives, clipped. Not by accident,
not by divine mistake:
Here lies the poor
unfortunate whose time came on time.
And I am she.
The prophecy touched on bruise, written
in bump, ridge after contusion–
Therí Pickens is a Professor of English at Bates College. She has published two monographs: New Body Politics (Routledge 2014) and Black Madness :: Mad Blackness (Duke UP 2019); and two edited projects: a special issue of African American Review on Blackness and Disability (2017) and Arab American Aesthetics (Routledge 2018). Her poetry has appeared in Wordgathering, Sq*** Valley Journal, Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, Save the Date, and Disability Studies Quarterly. Her poems are forthcoming in Ominum Gatherum Quarterly: A Project of the Community of Writers and The Journal.