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By Rio Cortez

Just as close     to living     as you are      to disappearing  knowing
my limits      you locate        the tender spots          without.
            To be batter and rind

maybe I’ve hidden     my feral self       even though      I was certain       I was wild
I’m now certain          it was vanity

here I pace            cut open           drinking thistle and yolk
expecting nothing               determined to live'

you          Little God,          Oldest Friend
who summons milk            and hair from the follicle            who moves my teeth      and makes
me bleed           it is not a joy           but joyful          to have been        brought
this close
to the earth

haven’t we touched hands before?           in the bright red towns of my youth
in Loa or Escalante         where I thought              we were only passing through
was it you at the counter              serving me sarsaparilla   in a cool brown bottle,
remembering me?




Listen as Rio Cortez readsPartum.”

Added: Thursday, November 10, 2022  /  Used with permission. From GOLDEN AX by Rio Cortez. Copyright © 2022 by Rio Cortez. Published by arrangement with Penguin Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Rio Cortez

Rio Cortez is the author of the debut poetry collection, Golden Ax (Penguin Books), which was longlisted for the 2022 National Book Award in Poetry. She is also the author of New York Times bestselling picture book, The ABCs of Black History. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, she lives, works, and writes in Harlem with her family. 

Image Description: Rio Cortez stands in front of a window with light shining partially on her. Rio has brown skin and brown hair, and is wearing a black shirt with white dot pattern, red lipstick, and eyeglasses.

Other poems by this author