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Hymnal

Read by Ruth Williams

At nine, my father couldn’t stop
placing a shotgun near the temple
of his grandfather, who couldn’t stop
pulling switches from birch trees,
nor unbuckling the unbloomed hips of my aunts,
who now cover their couches in plastic.
Potpourri coats my aunts like wool,
their lips damp in a fever hum of Amens.
By eleven, my father knows the shape of moonshine
in a grown man’s mouth,
cannot remove the rot
that roots my aunts
at the trunk of their grandfather.
Sundays my aunts dress like roses,
wear smiles hard as Baptist pews.
They do their best to catch the spirit,
though he has a sprinter’s legs.

Hafizah Geter is a South Carolina native currently living in Brooklyn, New York and is a Cave Canem fellow. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in BOXCAR Poetry Review, RHINO, Drunken Boat, Columbia Poetry Review, and other publications.