Donna Gary


Listen to the audio version.

The year I study abroad I am in the sky
ten hours longer than I have ever been
I defy the hungry melanin in my skin
and shrink as I approach the sun.

The familiar ache is stubborn and given wax wings.
In my ear canal, under my cheeks, inside my jaw
a plastic water bottle being squeezed.

I have come too close and stayed too long.
A dog somewhere circles restless before it sleeps.
How desperate pain can make anyone.
Let this end in free fall.

When I land my ears do not uncork
I strain to hear a new city
I eavesdrop without clarity
Hungry sounds muffle past me
If a voice isnít a whisper it is underwater

A month speeds by
Over wine spills and leather skirts
I laugh instead of responding
I stop asking people to repeat themselves

New friends storytell into my left ear
they learn my good side.
One ear for the alarm in the morning, for listening sorta
and one a conch shell for hearing myself

I could live hearing less Until the pressure gives way to an ache
When I chew, smile or move too fast
I can feel wax in my ears hardening like gum on a sidewalk

I smack the side of my head until I hear a soft gasp
my insides unsticking with a pop
In a few seconds of air flow I am flooded with sound
Before the small window of relief slams shut.


Donna Gary, an African American queer poet from Chicagoís Humboldt Park and Chatham hoods graduated from NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, with a concentration in Poetics of Embodiment; The Ways Marginalized Folks (Re)Imagine Their Value Through Poetics with a Cross School Disability Studies Minor. Find her published work in BOAAT Press, Sycamore Review, Gordon Square Review, and Lacunae. She is a 2019 Pushcart Prize Nominee.