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My Ancestor Who Learned To Read By Staring At The Bible


O LORD, listen! Look,

hear, how each aching alphabet

lashes my throat.


My O is fear & a trembling

kiss      I grip


your spine

and am fed by your flesh

every L I take:


my tongue to Your backside.

Again, another O


as I lay my lips on you, again.

Like hands

my jaw jacks the R,

this D thrusts


the roof of my mouth           

when You’re in me, makes


off with my breath

on the way out

every night


I sacrifice

this soft palate, fold


trachea in prayer:

LORD, let my words articulate

what the body wouldn’t dare



may the young purr of my voice


roar into maturation

after you have come all over me

give me strength to sermon


what I can’t swallow,

O LORD. Turn


my clapped cheeks

the other way

make me holler





Because what is climax

if not a resolution?

Your every Word


make my body chorus. I can’t

be sung back into submission.


Ashanti Anderson

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

My Ancestor Who Learned To

   Read By Staring At The Bible


Ashanti Anderson (she/her) is a Black Queer Disabled poet, screenwriter, and playwright. Her debut poetry chapbook, Black Under, won the Spring 2020 Black River Chapbook Competition at Black Lawrence Press. Her poems have appeared in World Literature Today, The Rumpus, and elsewhere in print and on the web. 

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