is the sound of me thinking
in a language stolen from my
ancestors. I can’t tell you who the
first slave in my family was, but we
are the last. Descendants
of the sun. Rye skinned
and vibrant, wailing to
a sailing tomb. We twist
creoled tongues. Make English
a song worth singing. You erase
our history and call it freedom.
Take our flesh and call it fashion.
Swallow nations and call it
humanity. We so savage
we let you live.
I can’t tell you who the first slave
in my family was, but we remember
the bodies. Our bodies remember.
We are their favorite melody. Beat
into bucket. Broken
into cardboard covered
into Harlem. The getting over
never begins, but there
is always the get down. Our DNA
sheet music humming
at the bottom
of the ocean.
Copyright © 2021 by Roya Marsh. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.