Us girls were born
With overblown pupils gulping down
Dim light. Hungry for the Sun
That loves us for our gold
And rich earth.

We were each visited once
By Her. Standing in the
Dead grass, dressed for
A prairie funeral.
She tilted her head back back back
And taught us how to extinguish fire with our mouths.

We will age exquisitely together
Wrinkled fingers twisting and wrapping around each other
Narrating our soft descent into madness: a memoir
In the name of every woman lobotomized.
It ends,
“Don’t hiss, don’t spit ‘Oh, baneful doctor!’
At a man, like any man, looking to unfold
Flesh and reveal a shard of the Sun.”

i used to lie about where i live

god, don’t you love it when the sky burns softly orange,
its thumb puncturing a clementine,
its soft figures in a candle’s flame,
its shadow outlining a halo?

when i say i’ve lost control over my body,
i’d like it to be in the wine-drunk english major
raving at the typewriter kind of way, the
“i read allen ginsberg once and now i’m a communist”
kind of way, the “it’s 3 a.m. and i stole a shopping cart from target”
kind of way.

instead i’ve forgotten how to move
and my brain is tucked away in the rattling of my bedroom pipes.

in classic teenage fashion i try to romanticize my life anyway,
not like movies about poor black and brown boys and girls finding purpose
(i.e., scholarships) in high school football or math team or any narrative
that will ask me to one day spoon-feed employers
the illusion of meritocracy.

maybe more like
loving the pigeons loving public housing sunlight
or saying,
“environmental racism will be the death of us,
but i don’t think the sky was this interesting a hundred years ago.”

Photo by cheng feng.

Nichole Fernandez

Nichole Fernandez is a current high school senior born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She was thrown into the world of poetry headfirst by Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems and subsequently enrolled herself in a semester-long poetry class in her sophomore year. Since then, Nichole’s work has been a continuous exploration of her identity as a young, working-class woman of color against the backdrop of New York City’s simultaneous diversity and deeply-rooted segregation. She aims to continue writing poetry while majoring in computer science and sociology while in college. Nichole was born into a family of Dominican immigrants and, like many first-generation Americans, was raised to believe that at the center of the universe was family, food, and creative expression. While her cousins were all talented singers, Nichole’s childhood speech impediment instead led her to find joy, growth, and comfort in visual art and writing. Nichole and her friends are currently working on launching a literary and arts-oriented zine for queer and femme people of color called “Chicas Cosmicas,” which can be found at @chicascosmicaszine on Instagram.