A collage combining old bacterial slides with other mixed media, organized in rectangles
Crystal Z Campbell, Friends of Friends (Six Degrees of Separation), 4x6x72 inches, vintage collection of bacteria slides circa 1940s, steel, LED strips, automotive paint, plexiglas, 2013

in the old ochre parts of the square
my mother has a dented locker
a ribbed combination lock
twenty-three, sixteen, five
right, right, left
the numbers ask to be forgotten
next to the soured community fridge
behind the tubby man that ate her lunch
in front of the woman who called about lickable stamps
asking her to hand the phone to someone else
anyone else
who speaks english

my mother memorizes the list of US presidents
dear mister postmaster
come president franklin
tell me, what is
the supreme law of the land

she closes her eyes
imagines chewing the last bits of chicken
from the adobo
my grandmother hacked 
and vinegared 
the night before
a carrier for the courier
the weight of words and letters on her shoulders
to be delivered each day of every weekday
slotted into holes of doors, boxes, bins, and barriers
weighted communications 
pinch disks craning her neck
bringing her five-foot carriage
to a horizontal still

above her
rice falls everywhere
but on the floor

Photo © Melissa Lukenbaugh

Crystal Z Campbell is a writer, multidisciplinary artist, and experimental filmmaker of African American, Filipino, and Chinese descents who hails from Oklahoma. Campbell’s hybrid essays and poems have been published in Hyperallergic, GARAGE, Monday Journal, and World Literature Today. Campbell is currently a Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center Fellow (2020–2021).