Solange Poem

Speakers off tonight
Turn off your headlights tonight
Don’t drive the road to slow
Don’t look too close tonight

My body is a vessel for stories
When I was little
Every night before bed my mother would read me
Myths and legends hailing from West Africa
The adventures of Anansi
Stories of little girls and ogres and big drums
And Gods big as the hills
After ever tale my small mouth would ask
Momma where do we come from?

I know that I am not African.
I am not African-American
My identity has been dragged through an ocean
And the sea salt sinks into cuts to add insult to injury
I am the hyphen between two separate misnomers.

This use to be ours
This use to be you and I’s

But was it really
What does it mean to be a stolen person
Living on stolen land
Never knowing your place
Because your place died long before your ancestry
There is no comfort in a borderless being

And I don’t know where to go
No I don’t know where to stay

At night you can find us
Tiptoeing on the eggshells of our broken family tree
Pulling dead branches from the brush as we look for some
Bit of root to cling to
Ours is the only diaspora without a distinguishable face
But we recognize her as she visits us in dreamland
Soft hands and a desert blossom smile
And she is there just beyond our reach

Where do we go from here?
Do you know?
Hey yo hey yo hey yo ah ahhh

Tell me
Is there a home for girls whose souls
No longer wish to return to the Motherland
But pray for a remembrance longer
Than the lives they lead?
Is there respite after death
Or just an endless searching for one’s place amongst the rubble?
I am always asking myself questions
That make being part of the Diaspora an experience in limbo
Am I allowed to exist in this body
How do I deal with this loss of self?
And where do I fit all of this anger

We bowed our heads
We broke our bread

Because this earth could never love us
But we are so tied to this soil
How we have made something
From absolutely nothing is a lesson in survival
When you are given something old
And put it to plow and harvest
That is a lesson in renewal
Our souls may still fly home eastward
But our bodies
Our bodies are still here now

Where do we go from here
Hey yo hey yo hey ah ahh