S. Erin Batiste is a poet. She has recently been named a finalist for the 2018 Furious Flower Poetry Prize, a semi-finalist for the 2018 Discovery / Boston Review Poetry Contest, and was long listed for the 2018 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize. She has received fellowships and support from Cave Canem, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. Her work is forthcoming or appears in Cosmonauts Avenue and elsewhere.

This poem was longlisted for the 2018 Peach Gold in Poetry with guest judge Morgan Parker.

1 poem

by S. Erin Batiste

A Record of Everything I’ve Outlived:

dedicated to my thirty-seven years

 


1. the volcano bellowing my birth announcement;
    ash rained days after, across state lines
    survivors shadowed my maternity halls
2. the house lost to a fireplace one winter evening;
    the family fable it became
3. my first memory: soft arms flinging me
    between the teeth of an escalator
    second: my mother grinning silently from the top
4. the gentle blue VW which carried me through the desert
5. the hanged aunt who’d shared my face
6. my two classmates stolen from our first-grade restroom stalls
7. my mother’s tornadoes that tore everyone apart
8. my father spending rent on Disneyland
9. my mother awarded primary custody
10. the toy aisle the stranger plucked me from
11. the ill-wired electric fan which charred away the roof and Christmas
12. my mother’s fourth husband;
       the eight hours he’d held a rifle on us
13. the fistfuls of pills which swallowed me and made my teenage life livable
14. the Safeway plastics I’d packed rushing to leave my mother’s for good
15. the repeat offender boyfriend;
      who’d made me drug traffic;
       who’d tried to traffic me;
       who’d first noticed my morning sickness
16. the aspiration D&C;
       the bipolar friend who signed as my mom
17. the Circle K parking lot where I’d met my father;
       lending him money for coke
        he didn’t know I knew about
18. the one-way ticket to New York City

19. returning to the showy suburbs
       and neon beaches which blanketed
       the city my father believed held heaven
20. my father laid three days dead;
       his lease still fresh on
       his Seattle apartment
21. the late trimester termination;
       belated birthday gift to myself
       after my second boyfriend finally made up his mind
22. the other unmarried aunt claimed by her heart
       a martyr and thermometer for the unrequited
23. 13-23
24. the stalker who illegally entered my apartment for weeks;
      the laughing cops who joked maybe he followed you home from a bar
25. the months of dockets and testimonies:
      v. the careless apartment complex
      v. the third battering ex
      v. the bankruptcy court
26. Christopher
27. Christopher
28. Christopher
29. Christopher
30. the poet: doll-like wife who followed herself into the dull light
31. my mother’s mother;
      who mothered me as much as she could;
      who left me heavy with her stories and Southernness;
      who     left     behind     so     much     silence
32. the jellyfish which embraced me in the warm sea
33. pneumonia
34. discovering masses of sadness had ravaged my sister
35. the lovers who’d used my grief for their erections
36. the driver who sped eighty miles opposite my hotel
37. the skies threaded with ferocious stars raring to remake all I’ve known