A Brief Biography of My Name
Cover art by Sokari Douglas Camp
The long mot arata is a type of
Sierra Leonean rodent that strikes
its prey in sleep. It nibbles away
at its victims while they are nestled
in deep recline. Its teeth sand down
calluses until they reveal scarlet
and beige flesh.
Though its stomach collapses
under the anvil of hunger,
this mouse has principle.
It takes tiny breaks to purse its lips
and push a stream of cold wind onto
its target’s feet, so as to offset any irritation
that may tussle the unsuspecting
out of slumber.
Though I don’t know if anyone in my
family could positively identify the long
mot arata in a lineup of offenders,
their certitude of the mouse’s
existence is irrefutable; it lies in the way
they express the betrayal they have often
felt at daybreak. They are disturbed by
the scene: short brown hairs flecked
on the bed and maroon paw prints inked
by their own blood.
Not even the simple act of rest comes
without profound suffering.
For most of my life, I have been haunted
by the tale of the long mot arata, and
taught to question my friends just like these
creatures, to doubt the admiration of anyone
who loves me without good enough reason,
to look for punctured heels following any
explosion of praise leaving a familiar mouth.
I had fallen many times from this spell:
the cool current passing over my toes
before seeing a bit of myself hanging
from your smiling lips. My wound, a
trace of your icy-breath desire to
take my feet and walk away from me.
I have gathered all of your forgotten
fur from my nightstand drawer and
plastered it to my body.
The moon makes an indigo silhouette
of your whiskers and snout.
Still and quiet, I wonder just when
you will notice how long you have been
eating yourself in the dark.