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By Kateema Lee

for six D.C. girls1 1971-1972

She grew up hearing about girls
who never made it to womanhood, girls
whose names wore away with each decade, 
girls who walked the same streets

she walked some days and nights,
at times for something to do
at times for food, at times to just go
somewhere, but she always made

it home. As she grew, fertile fields
of memory grew into cautionary tales
and strength. This is what some
girls do before they are women.

They disappear. They disappear. They disappear.
They are grains in the air, left floating
in afternoon, evening, and night breezes,
settling like ghost on retinas.



1Carol Spinks, Darlenia Johnson, Brenda Crockett, Nenomoshia Yates, Brenda Woodward, Diane Williams



Listen as Destiny Hemphill reads Kateema Lee's poem "Remembrance."

Added: Friday, June 4, 2021  /  From "Transcript of the Unnamed" (Kelsay Books, 2020). Used with permission.
Kateema Lee
Photo by Khalia Jackson.

Kateema Lee is a Washington D.C. native. Her work has been published in print and online journals such as Beltway Poetry Quarterly, African American Review, Gargoyle, Baltimore Review, and others. Kateema is the author of two chapbooks, Almost Invisible and Musings of a Netflix Binge Viewer. Her collection, Transcript of the Unnamed, explores joy, identity, violence, and the “brief, bright lives” of missing and forgotten black women in the District of Columbia.

Other poems by this author