The Body Exquisite: DaMaris Hill

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DaMaris Hill

HOTTER THAN JULY

from Breath Better Spent: Living Black Girlhood

 

 

You sit on two clouds of bees, honey
storms in place of your hips. Your waist
is an underripe watermelon, a tense
and tight drum. You carry daisies for breasts,
with dandelions eyes. Summer is skipping
away. Every radio humming static. Electric
is July. Hotter than we remember, which
is why you pray for her return, carrying sweet

onions in the hot grease of your armpits, salt
and soda crackers in the creases of your neck.
July is the 7-Eleven of your childhood, fluorescent.

Your jelly sandals are neon. Your panties—

washboard and starch white, snapping
hand game rhythms with your belly
button. The driveway is your playground
littered with Christie dolls and cordless curlers.

 

In the attic, you play with your vanity. You

pretend it is a crib. You skip circles around
a stool, sit on the top of it, Blue Magic hair

goo on the back of wrists. You pick at a face

mirror. You blow on it to reveal the musings

of your mustache. You karate kick an ankle

into the air. Flash freeze. There. You tiptoe

balance between chipped toenail polish and

your need for October. Middle school is a

distant dinner guest. It is July and you are still
a girl. You wrestle back the pink folds of your
body, cuss God for holding the woman in you
for ransom. You beg for the blood. You want it,

rushing, shiny, thick and lush like your hair. Enough

to uppercut yourself in the tum. Blood enough

to inspire envy. You want it lava-hot and licorice-

sweet. You want the boys to tell you that you smell
like rusting quarters. Rumor has it that a girl’s
first blood is chocolate. You want it enough to chew
Big Red when chomping on Cocoa Puffs and Pop
Rocks. You want blood enough to make friends
with the witches among ordinary women. You run

relays to the store for these “hussies.” They drink

ice-cold Pepsi without staining their laundry, always

hanging their rusty drawers dashed between the sheets.

Hotter Than JulyDaMaris Hill
00:00 / 03:04

DaMaris B. Hill is the author of A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland  (2020 NAACP Image Award nominee for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry), The Fluid Boundaries of Suffrage and Jim Crow: Staking Claims in the American Heartland, \Vi-zə-bəl\   \Teks-chərs\(Visible Textures). Hill's poetry collection Breath Better Spent: Living Black Girlhood is available for pre-order and is scheduled for release in January 2022. Hill has a keen interest in the work of Toni Morrison and theories regarding ‘rememory’ as a philosophy and aesthetic practice. Therefore, Hill uses digital material and critical fabulation research methods to write about “America” and geographic place. Similar to her creative process, Hill’s scholarly research is interdisciplinary. Hill is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Kentucky.