All Ash, An Anointing
When I say that West Florissant is my mind
I mean, I asked around & everyone thinks it’s
broken now & always has been, at least a little.
I mean, I watched the news & every microphone
said, “destroyed.” I mean, I asked the journalists
& the doctors & they both named it, “war.”
When I say that West Florissant is a map of my manic episodes
I mean, remember how the whole street was a giant firework?
How they couldn’t look away from the sparks clawing the sky
& laid out blankets to watch? I mean, remember how
stunning the fireball / before it landed? How every riot
is a lightshow / for months / before the ash?
When I say that West Florissant is my bipolar disorder
I mean that at some point, the arson is both surprise
& expected. I mean that at some point,
everything is ash, isn’t, and will be again.
When I say that West Florissant is my depression
I mean that even the ash has a name, has hundreds of them.
I mean that sometimes after a house fire, all you have left
of the carcass is memory, is the knowledge that the residue
of a charred thing still carries a name other than dust.
I mean that calling it all ash makes lazy work
of what should be called an anointing.
Jacqui Germain is a freelance writer, Callaloo Fellow and Pushcart Prize nominated poet living in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the author of When the Ghosts Come Ashore, published through Button Poetry and Exploding Pinecone Press, and has been featured on Huffington Post, St. Louis Public Radio and Ploughshares Journal. Her writing focuses on historical and contemporary iterations of black, brown and indigenous resistance, which she believes is deeply urgent work that both exists on the page and extends beyond it. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Offing, Muzzle Magazine, The Blueshift Journal, Connotation Press, and elsewhere. Currently, she’s an Arts and Culture Contributing Writer with ALIVE Magazine, based in St. Louis, MO.