Portrait of My Sister's Ankle Tied in Ribbon

Sasha Banks


We inherit the sky
somehow. You and I
have circled the alchemy
of blood and magic, time
and ancestors, anchors and flesh,
but I have no good
answer for how to live on
the ground, Ariana, not
as long as my own body is
a wounded kite convulsing in
the wind of history, not as long as leaving
my body is the only way I know to outlive it.
When our people collapsed to small
ruins, we watched our own black
feet begin to lift off
the ground: black balloon bodies versed
in ascension or survival, which
might be the same thing. If my love
could be the ribbon
that my age has woven up to this
moment, I would tie it
'round your ankle as you began
to float above my head, keep you inside
your body—tethered to this earth. Sister,
what spectacular weight
is blackness like this that
belittles all the sciences with
its burden and
weightlessness? To reconcile a heaven
into this earth, these bodies, is
an ancient dance done between cloud
and soil, despite the gravity,
despite the gravity.