What Kind of Omen Am I

[from the print issue FW16]

by zakia henderson-brown

after Black Thought

 

Seeking riches? Become the only raised presence in a field so any bird will know where to shit. Let a swallowtail alone on a sill to attract success. Do lunar blackouts yield sea levels upping the horizon

 

to god? Enticing, save for a bunch of dead species floating like maimed angels. Don’t start anything new. Crossed knives: duel with a neighbor that no one survives. Stray shots at a child’s surprise party

 

then a sun-shower mocks their tiny cries. Badges saddle up in safety vests, crisscrossing the path of every black cat. Local ER Refused Trauma Victim, Say Activists. I have a funny feeling in my wrists,

 

an old auntie whispers, meaning bloodletting. One nightingale casts a spell and everyone licks their lips to not end up dead. Any face ever backhanded: back; jacked. Foal resting on a mound, sun

 

splicing its back. Six lobes in the white of an egg mean a baby is close. Don’t block your blessings, my pastor chides each week. I swallow watermelon seeds, walk till I’m full wattage, abuzz like spring

 

rooted its smiling face in my back. When I was a girl, I turned a little boy into a butterfly with my open palm—I couldn’t let him be. Do I descend from the eclipse or dead species? Childish qualms

 

will never surprise me: who wouldn’t kill for gold, pegs on a slipshod ladder; to be bulletproof; to feel like a celebration? Everyone walks in risk around my shadow: my neighbors in love, the maimed

 

angel on my corner, shooting off his mouth until his lips crack and blood lets. Each day I start anew, victim to my own survival. I om on the same plane as the ocean, fluent in the language of the weary

 

wrist, of the would-not-be-saved-by-any-specialist, and still dare to backfloat, to sing like a nightingale. I wear a vest, duel for saltlicks, take the horizon to my lips; blackout. On the shore,

 

crows like little knives surprise my ankles.