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About this poet

Safiya Sinclair is the author of Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), winner of the 2015 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. She earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia and is the recipient of a 2015 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is currently a doctoral fellow in the University of Southern California’s PhD program in literature and creative writing.

Center of the World

The meek inherit nothing.
God in his tattered coat
this morning, a quiet tongue

in my ear, begging for alms,
cold hands reaching up my skirt.
Little lamb, paupered flock,

bless my black tea with tears.
I have shorn your golden
fleece, worn vast spools

of white lace, glittering jacquard,
gilded fig leaves, jeweled dust
on my skin. Cornsilk hair

in my hems. I have milked
the stout beast of what you call America;
and wear your men across my chest

like furs. Stick-pin fox and snow
blue chinchilla: They too came
to nibble at my door,

the soft pink tangles I trap
them in. Dear watchers in the shadows,
dear thick-thighed fiends. At ease,

please. Tell the hounds who undress
me with their eyes—I have nothing
to hide. I will spread myself

wide. Here, a flash of muscle. Here,
some blood in the hunt. Now the center
of the world: my incandescent cunt.

All hail the dark blooms of amaryllis
and the wild pink Damascus,
my sweet Aphrodite unfolding

in the kink. All hail hot jasmine
in the night; thick syrup
in your mouth, forked dagger

on my tongue. Legions at my heel.
Here at the world’s red mecca,
kneel. Here Eden, here Bethlehem,

here in the cradle of Thebes,
a towering sphinx roams the garden,
her wet dawn devouring. 

"Center of the World" first appeared in the December 2015 issue of Poetry. Subsequently published in Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press, 2016). Copyright © 2015 by Safiya Sinclair.

"Center of the World" first appeared in the December 2015 issue of Poetry. Subsequently published in Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press, 2016). Copyright © 2015 by Safiya Sinclair.

Safiya Sinclair

Safiya Sinclair

Safiya Sinclair is the author of Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), winner of the 2015 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry.

by this poet

poem

She daily effuses
the close-mouthed
tantrum of her fevers.

Hog-tied and lunatic.                         
Born toothsome, 
unholy. Born uppity.        
    
Blue-jawed and out-order.   
Watched her sculptor                   
split her bitter seam        

2
poem

Out here the surf rewrites our silences.
This smell of ocean may never leave me;
our humble life or the sea a dark page

I am trying to turn: Today my mother’s words
sound final. And perhaps this is her first true thing.
Her hands have not been her hands

since she was twelve,