Diseases of American Slavery (the desire) – Michigan Quarterly Review

Diseases of American Slavery (the desire)

Published in Issue 62.4: Fall 2023

Fall 2023 | Rachel Nelson Reads "Diseases of American Slavery (the desire)" MQR Sound

Rachel Nelson reads "Diseases of American Slavery (the desire)" for MQR's Fall 2023 issue "Transversions". Read the text for this piece on the MQR website.

                       The desire 
to find your mother’s hand

must be cured 	       A slow day 
under the sack is a contagion

The desire 
not to melt into fields 

is an affliction  The wish 
to be still as the sky 

unfolds into pink dusk 
means your life is in danger

The desire to find 
your mother’s hand

                       The wish 
not to be enslaved is evidence 

of pathology
               Call these diseases

natural as a bird wanting
to sun itself south

Illness        a fruiting
 	a manifestation 

of this condition
on your father’s back

	      on your child’s back

What is the cure for that?

Rachel Nelson is a Cave Canem fellow and a graduate of the University of Michigan’s MFA program, where she won a Hopwood Prize for playwriting. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, the museum of americana, Muzzle Magazine, Pleiades, Thrush, and elsewhere. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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