I feel like I speak with a borrowed tongue
In the language of an oppressor
English does not feel like a place to call home.
I imagine all the possible dialects I could have come from
And try on creole? try on Yoruba?
Like a young girl in her mother’s clothes
Too big, too complicated
More fabric weaved in to all my flags
Than I know what to do with.
I don’t fully understand why
English feels like a foreign language
When this is all I know of nation:
My race my class my gender my sexuality
All reminders of why I am more second class
Born in a country where my children
are not safe from unjust laws
with infrastructures built to oppress
Feeling anything but
I wear this red, white & blue with trepidation
A wary outsider within
A complicated history
Whispers of forgotten stories
And lack of representation
More question mark
Than origin tale
I know nowhere is perfect.
But all I’ve got for background
Is my grandparent’s light skin
Gene expressing in my own
From the South without much collective memory
Our family tree has no crest.
No tidy explanation of our generations
Just blank empty roots dangling in our family tree:
Who was my grandmother’s mother
and the mothers’ mothers before them?
What branch were they plucked from?
What languages did they leave back home?
Where did they learn to speak?
[Sorry (not sorry) plantation ain’t good enough]
I wonder what my voice would sound like
Without the erasure
Without the colonization
Sometimes I dream of
Even my ancestors do not remember
A space where our true song and dance
Drums deep in our speech pattern
The floral rhythm of rolling r’s
Full of mango and spice
I am an orphan
Robbed from a dialect
I will never get to move in to
I wish I knew where my blood comes from.
Perhaps that is why there is such an irresistible urge to travel
Wander lusting in my bones
Always searching for some place
To call home.