“Do Not Destroy”: A poem by Shanna Williams

do not destroy

by Shanna Williams

what if i want my roots back
want to dig into my skin and
pull them out of wet soil
wrap them around my neck
in spirals, all the way down
to my ankles

my birth rights are
written across my palms
the lines in my hands
are in hebrew

i want to know what it’s like to believe
in something and i want to know
what it’s like to be a part of something
a cultured community
of curly hair

i feel like my roots are waking up after
a long nap and they’re stretching up
and my body is shaking
my eyes are watered down
and my skin is taking in all the sunlight
that i’ve missed; i’ve been
blocking my view with a hate
for god, with a hate
because if there’s a god
why did my puppy die
why can’t i seem to figure out what to do with my life
why does my soulmate live in a different state

i want to grab my
religion by the neck
and i want it to fight
back and spit in my
face and beg me to
believe in it


Shanna Williams is a vegetarian from San Francisco and no, she doesn’t have her nose pierced or ride a Fixie bicycle.