Where I'm From
I am from my daddy's drunken heart, beating so fast as though flung from a
furious circle of women who are welcoming the men back from the hunt.
I am from my mother's matted eyes. My mother, a lil' orphan girl who often was
told, "Step back, black! You too po." My mother, who cried out, " I have my sisters
to love." My mother, who beat up the world to protect me.
I am from my cousin Cora's womb, which wasted away, but only after seven
babies grew into children who lived in a ditch to escape the streets and ate out of
I am from the son of God, the Mother Hen of the world. Careening down a dark
alley, I run into myself, leopard legs, little streaks.
I am from the Yoakum Chaparral Chalet, covered in chicken grease and bathing
in a washtub.
I am from Jasper, Texas, grasping my knuckles into the cement as I am dragged
I am from music, Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and Ellington's "Catch the A Train."
I am from gardens, honeysuckled and herbed, growing health and healing.
I am from nerves, stressed, tired and tangled.
I am from the hospital today where I watch my dad's eyes grow big and his body
shrink. I watch my mother skate into the room nodding and dreaming.
I am from the bottom of the Atlantic, screaming Holocaust, millions of dead
bones chilled and cried out, "Murderer, thief, betrayer."
I am from the eighteen hundred block of Isabella in Houston's Third Ward where
Mr. Evans used to sit on his porch and nod and Mrs. Turner used to sit on her
porch and talk, and everybody said, "Hey Baby, how ya been doin'?"