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Francine Harris

Francine Harris

Francine J. Harris is the author of play dead, winner of the 2017 Lambda Literary and Audre Lorde Awards, and was a finalist for the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Originally from Detroit, she has received an NEA fellowship, is a Cave Canem poet, and is currently Writer-in-Residence at Washington University in St. Louis.


One warm and summer evening, she has rubbed the pulp
of banana between her fingers and pushed it around
the rim of a clear and heavy vase, and showed
me how to hold it tight, almost to shatter
but just enough to keep the slippery flame
beneath her, the thick stink of candle lit
and placed beneath her bulge white gown, this
white woman hangs, living, from a noose
and holds the rope firmly in her own grip
which is like,
           and unlike
silhouette tapestries Kara Walker
made of a little girl who was hanged outside
a burning orphanage, one warm night
in 1863, in retaliation
for jobs some theory of negro would take from
white Irish workers should the draft
free slaves and allow them into factories, which
is the sense she does not want to grow inside
herself from her blond and lover's touch, his lips
a kind of popped, soft, plump over
the wick and fire, which I center beneath her open
legs and as soon as the heat is ready and lifts, and
as soon as he holds her hips in place and she holds
the hang in place and I hold the urn in place,
we look. Which she, of course, can't see. that almost kiss.


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