Jonterri Gadson



-Prayer in a child psych ward
Blessed sheets, sterile & foreign,
wrinkled over my child as he sleeps,
promise to warm him at least
to the temperature of my blood.
Holy bed, twin & tiny, teach me
how to be firm with his body,
but to yield for his spirit,
give me something to carry home
long after morning when he’s risen,
once you’ve sprung back & forgotten
his shape, his weight,
how much to give to hold him.


Girl, 11
A mouth is a sideways woman,
her curves and dips, the way she opens,
how her hollow center can sing.

Mother, your mouth
is a fallen cello.

Your husband’s hands—
a casket. Full of me.
Mother, Child Psych Ward
Though sunrise
presses against your eyes
commits itself to memory

asphalt lit in its violent light
leaves turning
shamefaced in the wind

best to begin accepting
neither this mile marker, nor that
can track your non-existent distance

from what you had to leave behind
from what is coming toward you,
for you, yes, even still

JONTERRI GADSON is Debra’s daughter. A Cave Canem fellow, she is the author of the chapbook, Pepper Girl (YesYes Books, 2012) and a recent graduate of University of Virginia’s Creative Writing MFA program. Her poetry has appeared in Callaloo, The Collagist, Anti-, PANK, and other journals. She currently serves as the Herbert W. Martin Creative Writing Fellow at the University of Dayton.

Read more by Jonterri Gadson:

Poem in Rebellious Magazine
Poem in Anti-
Poem in The Collagist