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.