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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.

Today Is a Photograph

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 sister's waist.

Today it only took a minute
to discover who among us was cruel.

Before her morning salatr, my sister digs
her feet in a lake. By winter,

blue throated robins
will have gathered.

Today is one place to bury a child
and what you say after.

Or else today is just domestic work.
How her bare feet touched mine,

the fern finding its way
back to life. Today is the scar I put on

her thigh. God, a man
who will always be hungry.

Kiss her, and the throne looks
empty. Today my sister

is a door put on backwards.
But maybe, snow finds the cypress.

Or the cancer
comes back.

Or maybe today is just another day
between the small

humiliations.
So many times

I have pulled my sister's bones apart.
Took the femur

from the tibia. I buried my sister
in the backyard; can't tell you

how long I have knelt
to this regret.

Today my sister’s teeth are slats
on the broken bridge between us.

Doing dishes we bare our elbows
one sleeve at a time

and today is her husband’s
stain on the bed sheets,

whatever name dark has learned to call itself.
We were like our parents today,

having our enemies name
our children.

Copyright © 2014 by Hafizah Geter. “Today Is a Photograph” originally appeared in Narrative Magazine. Reprinted with permission of the author.

 

Copyright © 2014 by Hafizah Geter. “Today Is a Photograph” 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

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

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