Earthbenders are Black and Brown Girls

For Elizabeth, (Lilian Vernon House, NYC. on October 5, 2017)

By Kay Ulanday Barrett

Between her toes, fingers, earth split,
worm warm, blades of grass
a lilt on summer sneakers.
She, was in love.

In small town Minnesota, there’s the face of someone
who’ll embrace her name years later,
but for now the grit of soil was epiphany.
Bark, an experiment.

Nobody gets up with the sun in her house.
Slow faces half awake, spring and leave
as she’s squeezing mulberries.

Streaks of juice sheen on palms, paint of
saccharine and root, by afternoon,
honeysuckle in her hair.

A moving forest, she’d laugh herself until dirt
streaked beneath fingernails.
Earth-song on everything
she touched.

She would scale blocks,
a pebble in a satchel,
a turned over stone,
fingers like antennae plowing caverns.

No doubt,
she swore that if she pressed
her cheek against the ground,
she swore it

it moved.

Read our interview with Kay Ulanday Barrett here.

Kay Ulanday Barrett aka @brownroundboi is a poet, performer, and cultural strategist. Barrett was featured in "9 Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Writers You Should Know" in Vogue in 2018 and was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry. They are the 2018 Lambda Literary Review Writer-in-Residence for Poetry and 2018 guest faculty for the Poetry Foundation. They received fellowships from VONA, Macondo, and The Home School. Barrett has featured on stages like The Lincoln Center, Princeton University, NYU, UC Berkeley, Chicago Historical Society, and the Brooklyn Museum. Their work has been featured in The Academy of American Poets, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour Poetry, BITCH, Asian American Literary Review, NYLON, and elsewhere. Their first book, When The Chant Comes was published by Topside Press in 2016. Their second collection, More Than Organs, will be published by Sibling Rivalry Press in spring 2020.