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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.

Testimony

     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 here politics performs

its own autopsies. My aunties
say things like, Boy big and black as you.
Then, the prosecution rests.

My neighbors never do. They lose
sleep as the National Guard parades
down Canfield. I heard my blood

was barely dry. I heard there were soldiers
beating their shields like war cries,
my boys holding hands to hold on

through your tear gas. Heard my mother
wandered the streets,
her body trembling

between a sign of a cross
and a fist. I heard a rumor
about riots got started.

Officer, I heard that after so much blood,
the ground develops
a taste for it.

Copyright 2017 © Hafizah Geter. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Fall 2017.

Copyright 2017 © Hafizah Geter. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Fall 2017.

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

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

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

poem

All the children
my sister has left

kneeling in a garden.
It is an orange spider

crushed between their teeth,
becoming heirs

to each other’s hungers.
We know better than to have

daughters now.
Today is not a crown

it is a forceps, the sunken
flower of my