Back to Issue Twenty-Eight.

Everything Must Go



After Xandria Phillips

as is tradition for the women / of my blood, / I shop too much. will sacrifice / a paycheck like a lamb for the chance to conjure up / a fresh silhouette. & i am supposed to hate / this about us. the nerve: to wrap our bodies in myths / we can’t afford. but i want to / make peace with this. i want to make peace with my grandmother’s gentle back / -room dedicated solely to the choir / of her hatboxes, quiet revelations / lining each wall. all day, she darts between the news & the home shopping network, unsure / whether to spend her pension or her prayer. once, she fled / a country ribboned by war / as if it were a dressing room. practiced walking in america / -n shoes until balance became her. to this day, she nests / for her daughters until there is nothing left / on the racks. stores enough patent-leather & lace to clothe every ghost / she left in Honduras. & who could call such a selfless love / a waste? still, my mother say grandma got too much / space in her heart. too many shelves inside of her she can’t wait to fill. / we have this in common. on weeknights, I midnight / scroll across landscapes of pixelated fabric / without direction. check for sales like my life / depends on it. desire a beauty / aimless as light. each morning, I wake wanting / to script a new creation story / across my skin. dare the day to reinvent itself until / everything that’s hurt me is a stain / washed clean. sometimes, the mirror is the only place / I decide what happens / to my body. here, i sketch myself into a velvet miracle / no one dare touch. the night / the thief undresses me, every drawer in my chest lay empty / as a scream. how to replace what is stolen / when it is the body / itself? officer asks what / I wore that night & i think of my grandma’s urgent gaze / in macy’s. here is its root: we shop to find the look that might finally keep us / safe. if there is always a danger to outrun, praise the choice / of heels for the chase. praise the good shoe & the stature / it lends me tonight. praise the pomp & circumstance of ripping the tag off / a brand-new skin. my grandmother & I dressed ourselves out / of deaths already tailored to fit. if this is a sin, / I’ll take one in every color. so bless every tattered thread / of this love. bless the thousand shopping carts I’ve filled & emptied / communion of fabric gathered / at my feet. after we leave the mall, grandma asks me to say grace over dinner. I take bread, / & break it. say: / this is my body, taken back. I do this in remembrance / of me.

Imani Davis is a queer Black miracle living in Brooklyn. A Mellon Mays Fellow, they are currently studying English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Their poetry appears with PBS News Hour, ROOKIE, Winter Tangerine, and elsewhere. To read more of their work, visit


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