by Erica Charis

I am not

the pinched ear skin of a rock-slinging

son of the Baltimore streets,

nor am I

the condensed breath on the inside

of a riot gear mask pulled down.


I am not

the string of curses buried

in a savage tsunami of base camp snow,

nor am I

the deadly dusty silence

after a Katmandu roof collapse.


I am not

the picket-worn callouses

of a born-again marriage rally,

nor am I

the harried hemline thread 

on the black robe of justice.


I am 

an ear,

persistently gleaning;

a breath,

held for safe returns;

a string

of names memorialized;

a tear 

dust-to-dust fallen;

a prayer

on a thousand tongues.


I am a deliberate stitch of witness,

patching the fabric worn bare by platitudes 

and mending the seams ripped out by deafness.



Erica Charis holds a B.F.A. from York University. Her poetry has been published in Borderline, Crab Fat, Broad!, and FUSION. Her cross-disciplinary collaborative work has been performed at Lesley University, the Lydia Fair, and the Dance Complex among other community venues. She’s an alum of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and she posts excerpts of and links to her work at lettheceleryrot.wordpress.com.