Friday, April 3, 2020

ancestors

Carved
elaborate order from start to finish,
twenty-three noses, P'urhepechan
slopes, interrupted by hills before
finishing in royal flares where
nostrils trumpet greatness.

You show yourselves able to endure
and never leave us; faces carved
and breathing the same twenty-three
collective atoms that I do.

Your blood is in my blood,
your mother is my mother,
the same twenty-three
chromosomes shared,
invisible threads, stretched tight
across life and death~too tender
to move and too strong to break.
And yet...
when people ask me
what I am, I've never
ever told them
I am you.

Days unfolded, twenty-three
white roses bloom in our garden,
robots mow our lawns,
pipes bring water from
deep inside twenty-three
underground wells. We live
on borrowed soil, in a land
prone to drought. Its face,
once barren, now with lawns
exploding dandelion stalks.


All of you who walked
before me, please
do not turn your noses,
do not be ashamed,
do not think I've forgotten.
We assumed this culture
assigned to us
from glossy magazines.
It came with everything:
a place to sit,
a place to stand,
a language to speak,
a way to live.

Marie Antoinette, from her foreign
land, journeyed to France at twenty-three.
Her carriage was met by twenty-three
members of its monarchy, who made
Marie strip down to nothing
before she entered France.
"You are in our country now,"
her captors told her.
Twenty three years
later, she lost her head for sins
of ancestors she never met.


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