River Rail Colby Issue
River Rail

Queer Weather

Poetry by Arisa White

At 12:31pm, there will be a Brandon Teena cold front
coming from the northeast. Hummingbirds
will take residence in the sky and the sky will
be wet with their teardrop presence.
The beating of their wings will make you cherish
your veins humming. Prepare to feel the horripilation
of your flesh—5000 voices involuntarily voicing
that they are, that they are, that they are.
Bring with you the skin you’re most afraid to wear.

December 31, 1993:
Brandon Teena, trans man, raped and murdered; Humboldt, NE

Bluebirds turn the sky bluer
when the Sanesha sun is in the high.
There will be no clouds for imagination.
Clear and auspicious, 2:10pm will sharpen instincts,
your gut will know the right thing to do.
Prepare for the otherside of the thing to refract
sunshine from its studs—the thing that detonates
you to a littler self, the thing that can’t stop stabbing.
Bring with you rubbish pulled from ashes, spirit
to make your sorrow obsidian, and 25 umbrellas
to shade the cockiest of tails.

February 10, 2008:
Sanesha Stewart, trans woman, 25 years old, stabbed to death; Bronx, NY

February 21, 1997:
The Otherside Lounge, lesbian club, bombed; Atlanta, GA

Mallards, at 3:01pm, will collect on the Lake’s
left side, forming a strapless boot.
Their bills will stick and poke the water,
leaving the surface tattooed in ripples.
A Scarber mist will roll in from mesquite-colored
hills and be a dead-weight halo on your head.
Prepare to lose your ’do to tighter curls and feel
the smallest doll inside yourself kick.
Bring Kleenex for your wind-slut tears and nose—
running to prove it’s not as solid as it appears.

March 1, 2013:
Sandra Scarber, 27 yeats old, beaten; Mesquite, TX

The city’s drought-dry fault will seize us
in a two-second quake at 4:22pm. Watch rock
pigeons from hill to hill into Old Brooklyn
down into the Basin make a wave. A Lee Polis
hail will hit Adam’s Point and fall like a beaded
curtain before a hand makes it part. Just one
block to be jeweled before it melts. Prepare
for two-tone dilemmas, for fear to snap a picture,
and you did feel that. Bring your trope-ropes
to double-dutch your legs to back-then, recall
from your muscles the many pop-ups you can do.

April 22, 2011:
Chrissy Lee Polis, trans woman, 22 years old, beaten, suffered seizure; Rosedale, MD

The geese will travel in their relationships,
their brood and mate for life. A violet glow
along the skyline, 6:23pm a northern Olgin wind
and a southern Chapa wind will whip up
the sand on the 12th Street side of the Lake.
The evening will be warm. Prepare to taste
the grit in everything, to pause your bite
to consider the hole you’ll leave, to reach
and feel everything and nothing at all. Bring
your muted apologies, a duster for when you must
brush off, and a seed you’re meaning to grow.

June 23, 2012:
Mollie Olgin & Kristene Chapa, 19 and 18 years old, shot execution style near Violet Andrews Park, Portland, TX

There will be a warm Pickett breeze
at 11:20pm. It will wash over you like
a lover who turns you both into spoons,
her breath condensing on your neck.
Black-crowned night herons will come
from watery nests, and you will want
the rocks without spirit. Prepare to brood
any of the motherless emotions that need
your attachment, that need you to open
the base of your throat and say grace,
say thank you for this daily, say So It is.
Bring your coasts and shores, a place
where the brackish meets your toes.

November 20, 1995:
Chanelle Pickett, trans woman, 23 years old, beaten and strangled; Watertown, MA


Arisa White

Arisa White is the author of You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, A Penny Saved, and Hurrah's Nest. She co-authored Biddy Mason Speaks Up, the second book in the Fighting for Justice series for young readers. Arisa is an assistant professor of creative writing at Colby College. arisawhite.com


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