Finalist – 2021 James H. Nash Contest
by BRITNY CORDERA
Your mother says you got those
ugly things from your father
but you know better.
You know all that dislocating
between 1810-1860 flattened your arches
before you were born. The constant
migrating we do between South and North
thereafter. Even though your mother’s arches
are high and perfect, meant to walk forever
in nine inch heels, your bunions
and cankles tell a different story
someone whose master broke
those appendages, boiled them
in hot sugar juice. The months in summer
you spent relearning how to walk
when those muscles collapsed,
the full cast inserts the doctors molded
to your instep, the combat boots
you wore every day for two years
they prescribed for the orthotics to fit in
none of this was an accident.
They said you should get surgery
your feet will fail you, arthritis in the ankles
and knees by twenty. Yes, they are worn,
but they are your birthmark,
scars that mean someone else ran
for their life so you would not
have to run anymore.
They are yours to fix.
BRITNY CORDERA is a published poet, nonfiction writer, and emerging journalist who investigates the intersections between environment, climate change, religion, and ecowomanism. She is interested in how climate change continues to exacerbate the settler-colonial agenda and how it is affecting Black and Indigenous communities. Cordera was a finalist for the 2020 Narrative 30 Below contest. Her poetry can be found or is forthcoming in Rhino, Narrative, Xavier Review, and PANK. She received her MFA from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. When she is not reporting for FBO, or writing poetry, Cordera is an editorial teaching artist for Outside Lit Mag and loves roller skating in her free time.