Friday Poem

I’d Once Left

—Excerpt from The Recorder

I’d once have left
brown behind
having already
left the tribe behind
and her tongue
and the garb that made me
theirs behind because it felt
like leaving hoi polloi behind
to finally put behind the chola
in my mother’s tongue
lingering in quiet deep vowels
behind meant I could leave
behind inferiority complex
not really but in theory

I tried to leave my eden-dreams
behind but they stuck to my shoe

because of my anarchic spirit
I leave behind dignity
so the angel inside me
stays behind me too
along with my poison pen

never mind I’ll need that

anger was my primary breathing
apparatus for so long
what a mixed blessing when it worked
I’ve learned the most from the cracked
once I broke into pieces
now I break into wholes

by Carmen Giménez Smith
from Smith College Poetry Center