Sonnet to Watch over You

First Made Into Language

Sonnet to Watch over You


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You say you cannot think of a single reason to continue./

You were born during a rainstorm. or snow. or the day was soft and cloudless./
or your lungs were full of night. This day was certainly the shortest. or longest/
of the year. Your mother. or your birth mother. or your father. or your birth/
father. or your life giver was reading at home. was on their way back from the/
store. was on their way to work. had no place to go. was dreaming of you when/
you woke them. when it was time. when you were ready to arrive. to see what/

the fuss was about. It was easy. on the way to the hospital. beneath the bough of/
the tree. on the way to the midwife. It was gruesome. in the bathtub. among the/
rubble. in the back of the ambulance. on the way back from school. It was/
joyous. atop the broken asphalt. on the side of a hill where we received you./
pulled you through. held you. made an opening and whispered. shouted./

There were no papers. or passports. or penalties. You were born without/
restriction. Not even the supernatural could hold you back from this oblivion.

- Omotara James


Omotara James is the author of the chapbook, “Daughter Tongue,” selected by African Poetry Book Fund, in collaboration with Akashic Books, for the 2018 New Generation African Poets Box Set. Born in Britain, she is the daughter of Nigerian and Trinidadian immigrants. A former social worker in the field of Harm Reduction, she has been awarded fellowships from Lambda Literary and Cave Canem Foundation. She is a recipient of the 2019 92Y / Discovery Poetry Prize and the winner of the 2019 Bread Loaf Katharine Bakeless Nason Award in Poetry. In addition, her work has been recognized with the Nancy P. Schnader Academy of American Poets Prize, the “Bridging the Gap” Slice Literary Award for emerging writers, a Luminaire Poetry Award, two Pushcart Prize nominations and one Best of the Net nomination. She was selected as a 2019 finalist for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize and her work has been selected for inclusion in Best Small Fictions, 2020. Her poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, The Academy of American Poets, The Believer, Literary Hub, Poetry Society of America, The Recluse, Nat.Brut, Winter Tangerine, No Tokens, Platypus Press, Cosmonauts Avenue and elsewhere, including various anthologies. She holds an MFA in Poetry from New York University and has instructed workshops at NYU, The 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center, Queens Public Library and elsewhere.

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