sporklet 12

Marlin M. Jenkins


The children we birthed were silenced before they could learn to sing.
—Rachni Queen, Mass Effect


A brief history of the galaxy: there was a war

and then another war, and so on, and we heard

songs of them until the echoes pierced us

and then some. Some echoes bleed with lead

and steel. Some steel is still lodged in a womb,

in a barrel, in a truce engineered to silence.

We learned to agree: It’s cruel to kill a silent

ladybug but not a buzzing fly. Mother, forgive

me: I loved my life until I hated it, held it

like a crystal sword, translucent, reflecting

my pores, my brown shell, and saw what I

was taught to see. We do our best to inhabit

a body while someone else decides whether

we are worth life. Forgive me for not believing

I am more; by now I question each potential

truth no matter the source. There were formulas

in the textbooks, but what I taught myself

in class was how to turn pencil to drumstick

in lieu of the singing lessons I wanted

but never got. I wish I could hear the drums

and not think of battle. In the time between

what I wish and where I am, I look out

from behind the glass and think of something

I have not yet seen, and (I don’t care if

I don’t know how) I sing a song about it.


Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit and currently lives in Minnesota. The author of the poetry chapbook Capable Monsters (Bull City Press, 2020) and a graduate of University of Michigan's MFA program, his work has found homes with Indiana ReviewThe RumpusWaxwing, and Kenyon Review Online, among others. You can find him online at marlinmjenkins.com.