poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

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.

The Widower

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

in trees— my father, the backyard

forest king, the humble

king. The dragging his scepter

through the darkness king.

The wind splits him into shivers.

Rivers of stars

don him like a crown. My king

who won’t lay his tenderness down

trembles into the black

unable to stop

his kingdom from dying.

I have failed to quiet

the animal inside him.

If only I would

take his hand.

This man weeping

in the cold,

how quickly I turn

from him.

Copyright © 2017 by Hafizah Geter. “The Widower” originally appeared in Court Green. Reprinted with permission of the author.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Hafizah Geter. “The Widower” originally appeared in Court Green. 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

     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

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

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