I inherited centuries of homelessness from my father.
On the back of tattered shawls,
I sucked the marrow
out of phantom words that pieced together
tapestries of stories too bold to be written down
in any one language
so we created a lexicon of thieves.
My father’s skin cried out Diaspora,
bark from sandalwood trees
scarred from the claws and whips of pale men
who wanted a chance at something exotic.
Peeled flesh like mangoes-
sliced while unripe
foreigners don’t know how to enjoy sweet things
without bringing them to ruins.
Some nights I dream of swimming.
I swim two or three oceans to get to
a home that no longer knows me.
But every face contorts to his,
singing to me muddled greetings
that my body recognizes before I could.
Shame bore me till
I tore at this language limb by limb
and suffocated it at the base of my throat,
sewing manufactured quilt pieces to my tongue,
Weighing it down with a dona nobis pacem.
Sitting under our plum tree, after dusk
there in a graveyard of pits.
He was devouring black butterflies
pulling off their paper wings till it kindled his belly
and smoke incinerated his lungs,
conjuring a fire I could steal.