The Such Thing As the Ridiculous Question –
Where are you from???
When I say ancestors, let’s be clear:
I mean slaves. I’m talkin’ Tennessee
cotton & Louisiana suga. I mean grave
dirt. I come from homes & marriages
named after the same type of weapon –
all it takes is a shotgun to know
I’m Black. I don’t got no secrets
a bullet ain’t told. Danger see me
& sit down somewhere.
I’m a direct descendant of last words
& first punches. I got stolen blood.
My complexion is America’s
darkest hour. You can trace my great
great great great great grandmother back
to a scream. I bet somewhere it’s a haint
with my eyes. My last name is a protest;
a brick through a window in a house
my bones built. One million
scabs from one scar.
Heavy is the hand that held
the whip. Black is the back that carried this
country & when this country’s palm gets
an itch, I become money. You give this country
an inch & it will take a freedom. You can’t talk slick
to this legacy of oiled scalps. You can’t spit
on my race & call it reign. I sound like my mama now,
who sound like her mama who sound like her mama who
sound like her mama, who sound like her
mama who sound like her mama who sound like her
mama who sound like her mama, who sound like a scream.
& that’s why I’m so loud, remember? You wanna know
where I’m from? Easy. Open a wound
& watch it heal.
by Siaara Freeman
from Split This Rock
Listen to reading: here