Back to Issue Forty-Four

Critical Missing II

For runaways


Bless us girls, apostrophes in our name;
hung drawbridges for the missing
continent in our chests, last seen
bowing behind the Atlantic. Since, time
has continued to chasm our contact,
dressing clear intention as American incident,

but these voids are no incident,
I’ve learned as I’ve attempted to name
the acute hurt: the desire for contact
without flinch, the mere warmth missing
from every greeting. Can’t remember a time
when I was not chosen last.

I scour for myself in final
scenes, every happy ending incident
to my silent work, yet so many times
I disappear, unnamed
in the credits. If I take my missing
into my own hands, have no contact

with the world that abuses contact,
perhaps, I will have a self that lasts. Seen
so many girls with my face go missing
as if we aren’t the beauty incident
on the world’s dull surface, their names
phantom amethysts embellishing time.

So I run so fast that even time
strains in its reach, struggling to contact
who it once held by the neck, by the name.
I breathe easier now. I was last seen
drawing wings on my chalk outline. Incidentally,
what tried to kill me missed.

A sad truth: sometimes we go missing
just because we’ve witnessed over time
how no one looks for us no one inciting
riots on our behalf. We: our only emergency contact
This country: our emergency. We see
it smile as it buries our names.

Call it an incident when we go missing,
But remember our names. For we will return, like time
to make contact with this dirt, before washing our feet in the sea


Alexa Patrick is a vocalist and poet from Connecticut. She holds fellowships from Cave Canem, Obsidian, the Watering Hole, and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Alexa has held various teaching positions, including through Split This Rock and the University of the District of Columbia. Alexa is currently the programs director for nonprofit writing program and publishing house Shout Mouse Press. You may find her work in publications including The Rumpus, CRWN Magazine, and The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic. Her debut collection, Remedies for Disappearing, will be published by Haymarket Books in 2023. Visit for more updates.

Next (Kim Addonizio) >

< Previous (Ricardo Frasso Jaramillo)