You asked, ‘Where are you from?’

You asked, ‘Where are you from?’

You asked, ‘Where are you from?’ 1212 936 Hunter Blackwell

I am from my mother’s womb of Smithfield,
my father’s seed of Brodnax. I am from prairies
full of red clay mud. I am from swampy grass plains,
where mosquitoes like the sweetest blood.
I am from the hunched four-year old reading
her Bible in front of the fridge.
I am from the twelve year old with the baby blue
and mauve walls that were not desired.
I learned to break through the cracks because when you come
from strength, strength is all you know.
It may not always help you to  be vulnerable
but where I’m from taught me how to finally crack.
I am from the pink rose bushes and the evergreens
planted in my mother’s backyard.

I am from where we watch our hooded brothers
walk four houses down, where we teach our sisters
that elbows and knees are for fighting
uncles and cousins from our necks and crotches.
I am from Black America, where the struggle
must come from the hood to be real,
where we do not utter things like depression, but only prayers to God.
I am from broad backs and wide shoulders that carry heavy traumas.
I am from the most disrespected person in America.
I am from the one that sometimes disrespect her the most.
I am from the lion rugs tacked to the walls of my fathers apartment.

I am from hand swats when babies are reaching
for things that do not belong to them.
I am from salty tears that roll down melanated skin
because our bodies are laying on graying asphalts
after reaching for something that was never on us.
I am higher jail sentences, from statistics that show black bodies
carrying babies are more likely to die from childbirth.
I am from inner thighs that kiss each other with every step.
I am from stomachs that look like pouches,
because they were stretched too far to create me.

I was birthed by calloused hands,
I was raised by pats on the cheeks.
I listened in on the soft whisper of family secrets
not meant for my young ears.
I was taught to dance to songs on the radio,
old school blues that tells us even though
we are several steps under the boot
we are still magical.

Where are you from?

Header photograph © Nnebuifé Kwubéi.

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