top of page

You Rinse Me off & Morning Spills - Penda Smith

into my small studio.

you scan the room. you make sure you haven’t

forgotten anything: key, wallet, phone you shyly

discard the condom wrapper wipe the left over sinew

on your blue washed jeans. you take your cup of

water & pour it in the sink. i wonder what business i

got being with a man that leaves like he never came

you not my man, but damn

i thought if i moaned loud enough you’d see my fine

black hair on my leg stand up, & cover me, see my

clamoring school children teeth chuckle like school

children & think to put your leg over mine, my

mother tried that. splashed cold water on my father

while he was sleeping. opened up all the windows, let

the cold air in & whatever else I guess she got tired

my momma ended up cherry eyed. litany of brazen

fingers wrapped around her throat. her soft neckbone

quivering from my father’s hand

i don’t think he saw

her even then, couldn’t have. he tell me he love her

but turned my mamma’s eyes into a red eclipse god

it is so lonely, seeing your gorgeous brown back i

catch your nappy hair flutter like a soft juniper i

want to say stay here—​ ask you how like

your eggs, do you want coffee, do you want to rest

longer, what god do you serve, when is the last

time you cried, & was it good?

you say goodlooks b

& i do not object your leaving that’s

the safest thing a man could do


Pendambaye Zenisha Smith is a scientist/researcher/poet who is invested in how Black women sustain themselves amidst antiblackness. She holds a degree in neurobiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has done research that examines how sexual assault alters neural regions. As a poet, she is the co-founder of the UpRise Poetry Collective, the assistant poetry editor for New Delta Review, guest editor for the 2020 Tennesee Literary Writing Festival, and a First Wave scholar. Her work has been published by Rattle Magazine,, and Decomp magazine. Currently, she is a First-Year MFA candidate for poetry at Louisiana State University.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page