American Honey

It’s easier than you thought—leaving.
Only one night spent sleeping on your own
in a motel parking lot beneath the stars
of a summer Okolona. Your long-built dread
dispersing like gas into a brilliantly Black
Appalachian sky. For once, you are a girl

unmolested. You could do this: be a girl
without a home. Always gone. Always leaving
behind Strip Mall, U.S.A & the dark
green dumpster you raid for food, something to own
& the two kids no one will care for, the dread
that comes on when their father grips you. Sparkle,

let your freedom build slow like the death of a star
across the years. & when she calls for you—granddaughter
of Elvis, confederate flag bikini, voice you dread—
let the interstate’s roar swallow her sound. In your leaving
you see your country for the first time. Your very own
seeing. When he howls for you, your body is a silent, Black

barn, hidden in wild grass & your locs—pastoral, Black—
are ropes for him, swaying from its rafters. Dangling star.
It’s easier than you imagined—leaving behind your own
mother. Her daughter, her ghost. Now you can be a girl
on the back patio with three white men & you can leave
with their money, egg suede cowboy hat adorning your dreads.

You’ve swallowed the Mezcal worm of your fear.
Now you’re standing in the cowboy’s convertible, Black
wind at the edge of the camera’s frame. You’re leaving
with the get-away boy you found sparking
in a K-mart parking lot. You’re keeping it alive—your girlhood,
the adrenaline, the novelty, the dying star you own

a million miles away. You’re learning how to own
yourself, how to be 14-deep in a 12-seater without dread.
How to disarm. How to let it go when the white girl
from Florida says nigga again, how to be the only Black
girl among strangers. Dancing around a bonfire under the stars.
Singing out of the sunroof down the interstate. Leaving

each new town you meet and own a memory in. Leaving
behind your mother’s dread-veined eyes. Fuse-less stars.
Learn it all, girl, until what you’ve left behind is a brilliant Black.