Dorsía Smith Silva

From Foreign to Foreign

The Fire This Time



 

From Foreign to Foreign

 
Your arrival as a brown girl
in the United States begins like this:
you are told in no uncertain terms that
you do not belong here, like a fly in
milk, someone bellows knee-deep like
packed roots hardening.
 
If you could fold into yourself,
burn eyes wishless,
turn to the corners,
talk to the walls,
but the conversation is over:
acceptance is cut loose like dead leaves
vined over the crossings.
 
There is no choice in the matter,
but to be excised like slick slabs of meat:
extremities of dangerous landscapes
come stuccoed with judgment as the hunter.
 
Weeks later. An apology settles like
branches of blossoms, but it extends like
a welcome picked cloth clean: measured
against the weight of your occupancy of survival.
 
 
 
 



 

The Fire This Time

 
As you climb into the ’98 Buick,
you hear the flood of sirens announce itself:
“Don’t move. Hands up.”
 
You clinch your teeth,
spread your fingers like wet webs, strain the pose like a dancer on a frayed tightrope.
 
How many minutes have passed?
 
You steady your stream of thoughts to block out the halo of bullets: black life gutted, only to spring into hashtags
like a winter sky with a new moon.
 
How this is parallel
to the endless moans of Passage, whips and chains,
400 years of slaughtering flesh, burning memories,
blowing the ashes like ringlets.
 
And how would you know justice, if you found it?
Point to the treasure map without monsters,
it’s so late in the season
as desiccated black bodies are shoehorned into the ground:
 
Dontre Hamilton
Eric Garner
Bettie Jones
John Crawford III
Michael Brown Jr.
Kevin Matthews
Ezell Ford
Dante Parker
Michael Noel
William Chapman
Terry Lee Chatman
Nuwnah LaRoche
Jason Champion
Bryan Overstreet
Tanisha Anderson
Akai Gurley
Nathaniel Pickett
Tamir Rice
Rumain Brisbon
Jerame Reid
Roy Nelson
Jamar Clark
Tyree Crawford
James Carney III
Kris Jackson
Paterson Brown
Keith Childress
Kevin Higgenbotham
Spencer McCain
Cornelius Brown
Wayne Wheeler
Samuel Dubose
Sandra Bland
Johnathan Sanders
Dominic Hutchinson
Christian Taylor
Troy Robinson
Tony Robinson
Keith McLeod
Christopher Kimble
Leroy Browning
Michael Lee Marshall
Calvon “Andre” Reid
Atatiana Jefferson
Phillip White
Alonzo Smith
Eric Harris
Walter Scott
Freddie Gray
Breonna Taylor
Ahmaud Arbery
George Floyd
Tony McDade
 
[. . .]
 
And to the ones that are not written here,
I see you. I hear you.
 
Our ancestors have lit the match:
Black Lives Matter.
 
 
 
 


DORSÍA SMITH SILVA is a Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Portland Review, Stoneboat, Storyscape, Pidgeonholes, Eclectica Magazine, and elsewhere. She is also the editor of Latina/Chicana Mothering and the co-editor of six books.


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