Nyvia Taylor is the author of Brown Visitors, poems acting as the eye obsessed, from afar, with watching the moments of our lives. “To me, a visitor can’t tell you the whole story because they’ve only experienced a sliver of it. My poems take you half of the way and leave your imagination to take you the rest of the journey.”

 

Once Upon A Heartbeat

Somewhere in a heartbeat I find your starry night
pulsating like bullets through the air, beating
like black boys running through the backyard
of your fortress. I see the way you fidget,

losing touch in your fingertips that you fold
easily into yourself. You’ve become so delicate,
a kingdom bringing ruins to itself.
You’ve fallen down to earth.

Somewhere in a heartbeat I feel
the tremble of your castle walls shake
as he tears through a different part of you,
as if the castle walls aren’t enough,
as if a broomstick-laced chair in front of your door
will ever be enough security.

That boy of a dragon used his pistol
to gun down a damsel in distress,
suffocating everything you wanted to say:
Are you in a gang? Shugga, why are you doin this?

What prince came to save the dragon but slay the boy?

You were supposed to be my fairy godmother,
but Sunday service prayers and soul food cocoon you,
reassure you like fairy tales, like the feeling
of what was ourswas always supposed to be his,give.

You turned to rags to soon. Your magic ran out at midnight.
Black boy’s running on your property after castle guards leave.
Police always be Rumplestiltskin asking for a name,
but there was never a name,
always a face etched into your brain.

Now every night I see the stars differently.
Clips of a fairytale replay on a dragon’s fiery breath,
and bloopers of a pistol firing. I try to delete scenes
of you losing your heartbeat, stop
when your crown was engraved in your new do,
when your chest was full.
I can’t see your lungs crash in anymore,
or your ribcage as the structure that holds you
together. Backbone being it, you lost what makes you queen.

Somewhere, in a heartbeat, time is frozen in this robbery,
playing the damsel in distress. You are a sleeping beauty
who’s forgotten what it feels like to fill her lungs with breath.