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A Question of Climate by Audre Lorde

published in her book, The Dead Behind Us (1986, Norton)

I learned to be honest

the way I learned to swim

dropped into the inevitable

my father's thumbs in my hairless armpits

about to give way

I am trying

to surface carefully


the water's shadow-legged musk

cannons of salt exploding

my nostril's rage

and for years

my powerful breast stroke

was a declaration of war.

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