Quartz “Growth” Creative Writing Award Winner
You are eight at your aunt’s, where you
meet your Big Cousin for the first time.
He’s in charge so he orders the pizza, sets
up the slip n’ slide and freezes the ice pops.
He lets you have an extra slice so you pick a
yellow flower for him. He says it’s just a weed.
He teaches you how to wish on the pis‐en‐lit.
While the other cousins snore in the viscous
midnight heat, you lay awake on the urine
stained mattress that your aunt never cleans.
You are twenty-something hyperventilating in a
public restroom because of the smell. You’ve
summoned droughts all your life to avoid this.
But a river is a
only remembers bone-chill. Not the carcasses
under Big Cousin’s bed. You dry-drown outside
of her womb. The Clockflower ticks and ticks.
At the farm you tell me about the uncle
who lives up the road. How he has axes
for hands. How your body is riven wood.
And when you were five, you accidentally
peed on his tractor.
I offer the river. I ask you to run with me.
To the city. To the ocean. To anywhere else.
We take the dog out to piss. You trace Orion.
I trace The Big Dipper.
When the door knob won’t turn and the
locksmith won’t answer, you say your uncle
has spare keys. I grow eight years young and
my Blow Ball lungs parachute to the pines.
We don’t call him.
I pick the lock, but can’t unchain the latch.
You hoist me up to a window. I wish on
The Big Dipper. My gums grow Lion’s Teeth.
I bite through the glass.
Otito Greg-Obi is a poet, screenwriter, and essayist who grew up in Maryland/ Washington D.C. Her work can be found in Silver Rose Magazine, Post Ghost Press, Washington Writers’ Publishing House, Unpopcultr, and The Vibe Room. She is also a Producing Associate at Minnie Productions. When she’s not writing or working on film projects, she’s pressing flowers in books she hasn’t finished reading and tending to her succulents. You can find her in the woods, at Trader Joe’s, or on twitter @otweetoh.