for Sandra Bland (1987–2015)
After the miscarriage, you moved to Waller County
wearing the ghost of motherhood
and wanting to make old wounds foreign.
In my bedroom, I read aloud the list
of your contusions, watched an officer
drag you from your car over and over again.
As if the humiliation can never be done,
there were typos in your autopsy report.
The words: no signs of struggle.
I thought, my body is your body,
is a temple on fire, is a blinded mask,
is a jail cell, is light as a paper bag,
is the sound my father makes
when, after so many years, he says my mother’s name.
They split you open on the same land where slaves grew
cotton at the banks of the Brazos
and the students at Prairie View A&M can barely vote
and laid you bare—a wishbone
carved in your chest. In Waller County,
they still segregate their cemeteries.
They fired their police chief, then elected him sheriff.
By July of that year someone had started counting.
So when they said suicide, we counted you
number sixty-three. We lose whole days
accounting for everyone.
Hafizah Geter was born in Zaria, Nigeria. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Boston Review, and Narrative Magazine, among others.
This poem is one of four “Testimony” poems in Tin House 73: True Crime. Read another, for Michael Brown, at Poets.org.