Sophia N. Ashley

Miriam searches me Clean with Mediterranean Vowels (2021)

Miriam searches me clean with Mediterranean vowels of— h(o)w do w(e) s(u)rv(i)ve?
when I told her “baggage your worth in four assets.”
Torchlight: for brightening the knowledge of black on our skin.
ATM Pin: for it’s rare abecedary.
Green card: for how often we too are created without a work permit.
Ticket: for a meal that’d account for that one-year gap, should we separate.
we were once youths adoring rifles, Ak-47.
till we were the ones gunned 24/7,
lifeless beside the red-hot cannons waltzing in showmanship
that witness the tip of our bodies absorb bullets,
pollinating the pillow pricked cloud to gun powder.
our thoughts, nearly vocalic.
how-do-we-survive? in a state we’re smuggled—black as any naive contraband.
a state I teach my scalp to duck the feral mug shots,
& outrun the badge chasing to chew my whole clan.
we’re reduced to that rib full of meat, crushed to ease suckle of our pigments:
simple wonder that breeds us into returnees.
the many verbs to bring us home,
to let the boy feigning refugee for six months know his life was a sour trick.
the many tense & careless inflections he lends to mourn his inability to roll
with his passported cousins, regardless of how his body etches Atlanta—land of rest
when diced to the ground.
I too am handpicked without miss each time I land at seaports.
72 trials in a row, if I attempt a hyperbole.
I overstate, because foretelling promises rebellion than remembrance.
because parenthesis is parental advice, & that’s all there’s to your dictionaries:
a sheaf of whispering leaves. that too, another language unfamiliar to us.
we admit doors when we cross shorelines.
some worm into thresholds. some turn warning.
the rest are just shores.

About this work

Miriam searches me Clean with Mediterranean Vowels unveils the harsh treatments meted on migrants, and the surreality of creating borders amongst ourselves.

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