Poetry | DEATH SENTENCE.

by Alexis Riddick

And of course my first kiss would be with the cotton lining of my own coffin, and I’m being lowered into the ground so brown it’s like I’m being buried in my own skin (how fitting!) , and the kiss was that kind of wet-pillow-drenched-in-ache soft and cold like snow-covered concrete, and my lips were as cracked as the sound of a whip upon the backs of generations scarring into the shape of a continent, and I hope dirt has a big enough mouth to swallow me whole because I’ve always been told I’m a big girl, and I think this plot of land is the most expensive thing I’ve ever worn (I mean, it’s nowhere near 40 acres, but death is the only thing promised to black folks that we actually receive anyway), and I worry that if Jesus really is the color of the clouds I wish to join he might just redline me into a red light district, and I wonder if not even Heaven is free from gentrification, and I think this might be turning into another sad entry from the diary of a black girl, and I think my poems are the only reason I’ll be worth remembering (but because I have no mugshots to distribute then I won’t be worth a headline), and I had hoped my first kiss would be more magical than this, and that the first thing to cuddle with me wouldn’t be this casket, and I remember when my bestfriend died I said she’d be in a better place -- only death can appreciate the beauty of a little black girl in the end -- and I didn’t know how right I’d be, and even my dying poem is about race (and I can finally stop running it), and now I will be one less mouth to feed and one less trauma to bear and one less body to hold except in the arms of the Earth, and I think my grandma will rejoice in the fact that I’m finally at church even if it is for my funeral, and Christians don’t call it a funeral anyway they call it a homegoing (this country has been treating us like the uninvited guests they have always been so of course the only way to actually feel at home is to die), and my dad will probably say I’m still not old enough to go on a date even if it is with death himself, and I’m sorry most of all to my brother for being a man in a lineage of women broken by toxic masculinity, and I’m sorry you have to read this poem (even my poem feels the need to apologize for its existence) , and the only way I can be at peace is to not feel anything anymore, and of course my last words are just a pile of metaphors and laments (and isn’t life just a metaphor for lament?) .