colors   lines   colors   lines   colors   lines   colors   lines    colors   lines
colors    lines    colors    lines    colors    lines   colors    lines    colors   lines

my grandfather owns a farm
named for his enslaved
grandmother     Addie.

my father once
was pulled over for speeding
just a little, and when the cop questioned him
he said, I’m a doctor   I have to get my
children to school       officer, I’m a doctor.

it still makes me mad that he said it
but I don’t know if I should be.
he is a black man & he is alive.

[there was always one neighbor kid who’d play with us                         & no more.]

that I have known good backyards, hoses for drinking and dancing around, dogs
as guardians, rope as just rope. that these are not my artifacts of

in an old jewelry box
with my name on it:

particularly round acorns
pens    in other words
        precious things

growing up
as learning to guard one’s things.
the wrongness of things
a fruit fly in the kitchen making
slow work of our trash heaps.


to get over. to have gotten over. to have (almost)  always been over.
  [what is gotten over. who sits there. who stirs. who sees the getting.]

the commonest pre-existing condition:
centrality of the self.

            the creeping kudzu of something like a cousin to guilt. who can be comfortable in
a backyard like that. who can be safe. if this stolen land isn’t for everyone              then
it’s for [                  ].




Irène Mathieu is a pediatrician, writer, and public health researcher. She is the 2016 winner of the Bob Kaufman Book Prize and Yemassee Journal‘s Poetry Prize, and author of the book orogeny (Trembling Pillow Press, 2017) and poetry chapbook the galaxy of origins (dancing girl press & studio, 2014). Irène has received fellowships from the Fulbright Program and the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. She is on the speakers’ bureau for Jack Jones Literary Arts. For more, please visit her website: