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By Lisbeth White

At the end of the field                 are tracks
train   metal   iron   sound          called whistle 
to me   a blare   that splits air    before it 
warning   edging along these                  stretches  
of cotton   cut low and brown from       winter
white   stuffs webbed   and molding      they say 
so much   is wasted    using       machines
walking down rows                     i want
to take my clothes   off               strip 
cotton sweater   from my          shoulders  
cotton jeans   from                     my thighs
i pick a small piece                     marvel
at its fluff   the resilient             web  
as i pull   the bundle apart        but how   it binds 
to itself   fibers holding until    a yank
of extreme force                          even then
i   have never   felt anything      so
soft   more gentle   than air       i bring
it   to trace   the rim   of my       lips
as i am   compelled  to do          with all
soft   things   as if they can        salve
the wound   of my mouth          my father
picked this   as a child   with     his sisters   
younger   said   the plants    were         spined   sharp
even careful     they came away             with
cuticles bloody   fingertips pierced       i try  
to believe him   with this softness         in my hands
now   so ethereal   i can’t            tell 
if it is here   or   evaporating     like
memory     angelic                       this bud
used   to swab wounds               swaddle 
babies   clean   the very blood  it pricked 
forth   the train   cracks its        horn again
chugging   its sound of               movement of  
going                 through              this field   
of known pain   this field           i want
to be   naked in                            what am i doing 
with what   i know                       of  history
when i slip   this small piece of             raw  
cotton into my tank top against           my breasts
its smoothness   enveloped   i can’t     feel it’s difference
from my own                                skin



Listen as Lisbeth White reads "Hull".

Added: Friday, March 12, 2021  /  Used with permission.
Lisbeth White
Bregga Photography

Lisbeth White (she/they) is a lover of the earth, wanderer of lands, poet, dancer, expressive arts therapist, Kemetic Reiki practitioner, elemental energy healer, listener, and  ancestor celebrant. A 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, Lisbeth is an alumna of VONA, Bread Loaf Environmental Conference, Tin House, and Callaloo Creative Writing Workshops. Her poetry has appeared in Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, The Rumpus, Kweli, Blue Mountain Review, Apogee, the anthology Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, and elsewhere. She holds a dual BA in Creative Writing and Sociology as well as an MA in Counseling Psychology. You can find her digitally at her website or Instagram.

Other poems by this author