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Zakia Henderson-Brown

Meanwhile, a Sanford Wife Burns Bacon
for Shellie Zimmerman

When he called home from the station begging a clean change of clothes
her nurse’s sense perked to danger but she kept cool. Not until
she got close enough to smell his adrenaline protect us stink
to see his wounds slinking down the back of his head like tribal marks
I followed him nose in a fresh torque, did she freak out. Her training
didn’t prepare her for the organs’ slow slip at seeing her new kin
seem so close slammed me on the concrete to killed, eyes widened
with war, words few and fidgety. Once home, they sat wrapped
hoodie up in the tender quiet of his safety while she calmed, reflecting:
matrimony intact. His explanation—breakneck whirlwind of suspicious,
self-defense, stakes: my life or his—was an equation she couldn’t compute
though she absorbed the faulty math, young wedding vows
bursting from the heart’s chambers, worming north, infecting her brain
with a chant: Believe him. I have to believe him. Believe him. I have to

zakia henderson-brown has received fellowships and scholarships from the Cave Canem Foundation, Callaloo Journal, and the Fine Arts Work Center. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Torch, Reverie, Burner Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, and the anthology Why I Am Not a Painter (Argos: 2011). She currently works as the Outreach Coordinator for The New Jim Crow at The New Press. zakia is a proud Brooklyn native and loyalist.