Samantha Samakande

Bathtub Elegy

                The water was a lazily steeped tea,
a barely lukewarm swamp
of a brew burdened by our small,
blank bodies.

                We stayed in the bath too long,
our dead skins sketching
chalk lines across our backs,
coalescing to porcelain
like that lipstick stain
dark blends confide in their cups.

                Our laughter unspooled around us,
a womb from the world outside
our bathtub, until mama slipped
open the door,
                jerked her head
through the slot and announced
that our shrieking was inappropriate,

                that in the time it took my sister and me
to squander the morning with splashing,
to lather the full yard of our flesh, tender
necks down to pruny clefts between toes,

                our little cousin had folded
away into a private sleep.

                Grief, that blurred out sting
forged its nest in the shadowy nooks
of mama’s face, misshaped her voice.

                We let everything drain,
fell out of our noise, dulled ourselves.
                Raw air nibbled at my bare skin,
precise in its slant. I waited
for my turn with the towel, trying
to leak a little less onto the floor.

Samantha Samakande is a Zimbabwean poet currently based out of Bloomfield, NJ where she resides with her husband. She is a graduate of Allegheny College, an editor for F(r)iction, as well as an Editorial Fellow for Sugar House Review. Her work, nominated for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize, has appeared or is forthcoming in Okay Donkey, The American Journal of Poetry, Sugar House Review, The Indianapolis Review, Hobart, and Gordon Square Review, among other journals. In 2020, she was the second-place winner of Frontier Poetry’s Award for New Poets.

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