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 the GENDER issue / POETRY


by Candice Merritt

And then she swallowed 

him—head hair face first

whole, no tongue nor time

or eye, to savor, or hot spit to

smooth, that brisling beard,   that beard

the blackest part, stubborn stubble

brushing against the 

walls of her brimming



How itchy

    a knock on the funny bone,

    a curious finger, trespassing 

    home, its nose in the navel? 


She carried, — his  or,

mistaking the, missing 

body, for



But that beard, that body

Tangled in and she 

wanted out— 

All of it!


If she could turn herself

out from skin, how

She would find, not him—


a stillborn

with teeth

needing History to

try right, the

first time—But


out her throat,

she’d find a

heart, mine or his, 


She had to 

wind it, listen to a 

juke—the love

and loss—of 

the first 



Candice J. Merritt is a black queer feminist with roots in St. Louis, MO and Atlanta, GA. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in African American Studies at Northwestern University with a focus on black feminist theory, motherhood, and family in black women's literature. She seeks to weave theory, memoir, poetry, and creative non-fiction in her writing, research, and teaching. 

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