Poems / June 4, 2024

Welfare Check

Camille Rankin

When I say I’m okay, it’s just nobody’s coming
to save me. I’m out of sight this way.
With my mouth muddled

I’m so safe. I speak most clearly
when I’m dangerous. Step to and the room grows dim,
let my word slip and the whole world turns

fire and hiss under my tongue. I’ll say I didn’t
mean it but I did. You’ll feel better soon, the night
sagging in its silence again. It’s just what you won’t

see: I drift all around me
in the snow our shapes make.
I move through America looking up

at the trees, which are stolen, this land
a vast and stolen thing and I
a stolen thing deposited within it. When I say

I’m okay, I mean I’m just one
black ripple on a black sea.
I hear that sound my shape makes

in your mind’s darkest room.
I am most dangerous
when I speak.

I step in the fire and hiss.
The whole world turns.
Everyone’s looking, but nobody sees.

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Camille Rankin

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