I come from a long line of black faces sculpted from
the dry, jet black meat of a sunflower.
Created in thirty different shades of black,
but all given the same smile.
White smiles as shiny and sly as the fat beads of sweat
running down the sun’s thick neck.
These faces and smiles traveled border to border,
on boats and horses and trains.
Through cacti and deserts and rippling waves.
The brims of their hats drenched in the sweat from
their head. The soles of their shoes covered in their past.
Their tongues thirsty for a dream.
Thirsty for the freedom to work, use their hands,
or crack their bones,
the freedom to grow and nourish their brains
and water their souls,
the freedom to love with a permanence,
and the freedom to breathe without consequence.
To breathe in. And breathe out.
And in. And out.
To suck up oxygen and swallow saliva.
To smell the world in front of them.
Gasoline dripping from a car, yeast in the bread factory,
burnt metal and steel. To smell anything.
To just be.
To be acknowledged for their beating hearts.
I come from a long line of people whose
superstitions, prayers, fears, nightmares, and dreams
sang in their suitcases as they traveled west, then left their
suitcases and danced with the roots of the flowers where
they settled. The same flowers growing in the bushes in our backyard.
Pink and red flowers that bloom all year and protect the house I grew up in.
I come from a long line of flowery women with pink ribbons
tied tight in their rib cages and burly men who were buried
with big, bleeding red, white, and blue flags atop their sleeping eyes.
I come from hardworking people who were told of me, by the moon, in their dreams.
Whose faces, names, and scars live and breathe in my spine.
And I never met them, but I think of them every time I look at the flowers.
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