Published on Academy of American Poets (

Interrogation Suite: Where did you come from / how did you arrive?

I ripped my mother being born

             and I am the only.

                            The oldest ripped my grandmother

                                     and still came more.

We have a family history

             of losing our heads,

                            of no one listening,

                                        of telling someone before.

We are raucous and willful,

              loud as thunder.

                            No one can forget us,

                                        we bear our teeth.

We pass through bodies

              like summer heat. We eat

                            and thicken, worry men.

                                        They plead and suffer, come again.

I entered the world

              a turning storm,

                            but no one stopped me

                                        though they’d been warned.


Copyright © 2019 by Remica Bingham-Risher. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 12, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“These last few years, I have been writing about my grandmothers many generations removed and have found myself reeling at their resilient, fractured living. There are only facts here. Because of them: I am a force. The poem owes deference to Mahogany L. Browne, who introduced me to Bhanu Kapil’s book The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers from which the poem takes its title question.”
—Remica Bingham-Risher


Remica Bingham-Risher

Remica Bingham-Risher is the author of three poetry collections, including Starlight & Error (Diode, 2017) and What We Ask of Flesh (Etruscan, 2013).

Date Published: 2019-06-12

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