I am from a formula-fed, back to work in 6 weeks mama and a no-show, no-go father with no-name who’s still alive.
I’m from scrap quilts backed with flour sacks feet poking out the end of the bed. Mildred, Hazel, Dot, and Sue are my ladies with empty spools of thread.
I am from spitting watermelon seeds under a pecan tree, chocolate pies with crumbly crusts pinched by sneaky fingers and fried chicken hot from a cast-iron skillet.
I am from the smell of Palmolive and microwave Tater-Tots in a kitchen small and warm.
I’m from a court of sandalwood off Mt. Olive Church road and E. 1st St.
I am from flying pigtails growing into Aquanet hairspray lockdown.
I’m from Swatch Watches that tell the time.
I’m from rain that is purple, Michael Jackson, Hungry Like The Wolf, and Like A Virgin (but not quite).
I am from private school with chapel every Wednesday, back row, hunched over on legs too straight and long to stand.
I am from I’ll Fly Away, Oh Glory even when you make me lay down.
I am from a marching drum beat with soldiers parading and men in white hoods circling court house columns doing the same.
I am from the rattle of summer’s cicadas hot and thick with rage.
I am from don’t-run-your-mouth, I’ll-give-you-something-to-cry-about forsythia branches scalped for a spanking, the soft-scented lilacs lining standing proud in front of a brick wall, and a lone backyard apple tree whose fruit is too sour to eat.
I am from scrub pines and a dogwood tree whose limbs are worn smooth by calloused hands climbing.
Both broken before they bud.
I am from wanting to breathe.
I’m from where no one has to look over their shoulder and wonder what’s coming through their own front door.
I’m from wanting to feel air inside my chest, yours and mine.
I am from wanting safe places to be, to move, to laugh.
I am from peaceful sleep that wakes to soft light and morning song.
And I have come back for this little girl.