there are insects encased by amber sap and other fragile figurines lining the shelves.
the bedroom my sister and i share our entire lives began with brown walls.
one summer, the walls were to be painted. my mother wanted lilac.
my sister wanted pink. i wanted blue, to lie in my bed and pretend like i was under the ocean,
a compromise at the center of a continent—a plausible fish tank. the bugs are stuck because
the walls they rested on began to seep. i read a play about a poet working to death in a shoe factory.
the poet’s wages support the family. a mother, and a sister who keeps a menagerie of glass animals,
too fragile to escape. our room is split diagonally, pink and blue. my sister and i keep pretty small things
to dust. the coating, microbes and sap, does not bind the body to break, but to preserve. resin thickening
the lungs. i gaze thru the sealed windows of my half tank and sing sonar. how cicada song mellows when
cast into rocks. sound struggles to keep pace with light, accompanies nonetheless. my sister gradients
red when the heat comes, the window’s unstuck to make space for the air conditioning unit. after,
the walls emanate from beneath the wet paint. i pick and peel off corners in the closet. skeletons move
easily through saturated light, poem or animal or glass.
RACHEL ATAKPA (RAE/RAJE) IS AN ARTIST, TEACHER AND GARDENER PRACTICING ON OCCUPIED KAW, WICHITA, AND OSAGE LAND.