Poets from Layli Long Soldier and Natalie Diaz, to Eduardo C. Corral and Ocean Vuong all have special places in my life. They teach me hunger and breath. Language. Awe. They say, the body begins art. But Sherwin Bitsui was the very first poet I read that completely changed me when I read his book/poem Flood Song and later his first collection Shapeshift. The poem on the fifth page of Shapeshift reads: 1868. That’s it. The title. Just a year. And an empty page. I was 21 years old walking across the river that divides two states. Our America, its many grave-sized plots of silence—left unmarked. For me, it was 1877. My blank page. A history inside me. Underneath the white space: bodies, bodies. Each with faces like mine. Sherwin was the first one to insist, Say nothing, Michael. And don’t worry. I’m weeping too.