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I Never Talk About the Blood

Nor the hunting knife which he bought at Walmart, nor about my sister who, three years later, would see the wooden replicas brought into her self-defense class and suddenly have to leave. She told me she didn’t understand. It’s not like I was there, she said. It’s not like it happened to me. And I want to say it’s not like it happened to me, either. But then I remember the blood. There was so much blood, I say in a car ride through upstate New York. The moon was full and the radio was aching out another sad guitar song, and I hadn’t realized how true this was until I said the words aloud for the first time, for that’s what I’m haunted by the most, even more than the memory of returning to my classroom to stand with my insufficient back against the unlocked door while two rooms down she tried to hold his blood in. We found her that way later, her hands holding firmly to his neck and how fresh and clean the blood. The brightest paint I’d ever seen. So bright she dipped her hands in it. They say that spinning objects, if carrying enough mass, can bend time and space, and I want to spiral back that beginning: to the long bike ride through dawn. To my students, their eyes half-closed, breathing stifled yawns. Open your notebooks, I say, and what follows is the soft shuffle of backpacks and binder paper. The uncapping of twenty worn pens. The morning light shines through the open windows. It is warm against my back, and I know nothing yet of keeping the morning in.

In her dailiness, Samantha Tetangco struggles with what it means today to be a queer poet of color who doesn’t often write about being a queer person of color.