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About this poet

Hafizah Geter was born in Zaria, Nigeria, and received her BA in English and economics from Clemson University and her MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Geter’s poems have appeared in Boston Review, Narrative Magazine, The New Yorker, and Tin House, among others. A Cave Canem fellow and the recipient of a 2012 Amy Award from Poets & Writers, Geter serves on the board of VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts and works as an editor at Little A and Day One from Amazon Publishing. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Paula

Hafizah, when you sleep, a storm suddenly opens its jaw like that ancient dog your neighbors used to beat in front of God and everybody. The wasps duel like prophets and hide their nests in your clothes. Every day your eyes are barefoot. A child could kick the door of you in. So what if you are some kind of Icarus? Sunlight jails itself in your bone. Remember when our eyes were two halves of a locket? And on TV, women were so crazy men had to snatch them by their elbows? You still look like the first time we learned swans were vicious. That year you could carry not even your name. Let’s pretend this grief is possible to initiate when sober. Let’s pretend I am Paula no more. Fact— if you segregate the kingdom by genus you will find the moon bears all the markers of a boarded up fireplace, that the blowflies always find the coyote. In the game of truth, you pick the dare every time.

Copyright © 2014 by Hafizah Geter. “Paula [Hafizah, when you sleep]” originally appeared in Narrative Magazine. Reprinted with permission of the author.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Hafizah Geter. “Paula [Hafizah, when you sleep]” originally appeared in Narrative Magazine. Reprinted with permission of the author.

 

Hafizah Geter

Hafizah Geter

Hafizah Geter was born in Zaria, Nigeria, and received her BA in English and economics from Clemson University and her MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago.

by this poet

poem

Five winters in a row, my father knuckles

the trunk of his backyard pine

like he’s testing a watermelon.

He scolds smooth patches

where bark won’t grow,

breaks branches

to find them hollow.

He inhales deeply

and the pine tree has lost

even its scent. He grieves

poem

     for Michael Brown (1996–2014)

Officer, for hours I lay there.
The sun at my back.
My blood running a country

mile between the pavement
and the crown of my head.
No ambulance ever came.

It took a long time to cover my body.
There are politics to death
and

poem

My father, who spends most of his days painting

pictures, says coming home to my mother

stroking out was like walking in on an affair.

Bending, he demonstrates how

an aneurism hugged my mother

to her knees. A man always

at his easel, my father tries to draw clarity

from