I have thinking a lot lately about identity and what home and decolonizing means to me on a more intimate level. I’ve also been thinking about the concept of honoring all your grandmothers.

There’s lots of loneliness, confusion and isolation wrapped up in those ideas, and, if I’m being horribly honest, there are some grandmothers I’d rather forget, that would be easier not to acknowledge.

What does honoring and loving all parts of you while eschewing colorism, white supremacy and colonization look like? Is my decolonizing strictly performative (about how I look aesthetically and what I buy, what I say, who I surround myself around and who I date, or don’t) or do I really take it to heart and want to practice it in every part of my life sincerely, not for looks? Do I actually want to return snd muddle through all the difficult and painful parts of community or remain isolated and romanticize them from afar? Do my European Grandmothers deserve scapegoating and less love for the violence they and their people committed against my African and Taino ones? Here’s a(n only slightly edited) poem about it. Happy World Poetry Day.

There is no pull

in any one direction.

No one peoples (peoples, tribe, community) to claim,

or who will reliably claim you,

only a faithful series

of hands reaching

to push you out

(serving as a reminder

that there’s nothing pure in me

and I’ve never had a home.)

Instead, I have found a living in flux,

in loss,

at sea.

Mother’s touches only came

to turn an arm behind my back,

and this land

and my parents’ land

are not my land.

These are the simple bitter sweetnesses

of being centuries away from self,

miles from belonging

and only having a few decades

to sort it out.

There is no here,

or there,

only bits and pieces of it all

contained within me

carried in the blood,

married wildly, sweetly

on my face,

in my limbs.

Betrayal,

loyalty,

submission,

defiance,

survival,

genocide,

resistance,

life,

death

they all preoccupy themselves

with fighting,

dancing,

screaming,

loving

in my chest

and beating the drum of my heart.

I am both none and all

of my ancestors,

I am both none and all

who came before me

or who will come after,

I am their wildest nightmares

and bigger than

their biggest dreams,

I am nothing they could have ever imagined.

In visions I came, perhaps,

a shadowy thing, surrounded by water

but I was yet unknowable

and I am unknowable yet.

There were no words then for who I am,

where I belonged

and there are hardly any now.

To put on another’s love for their mothers

feels cloying, suffocating

to chew on the marrow

of another’s creation myth

hollow,

to drink from another’s well of knowledge

rings false,

so I wander cold,

hungering,

thirsting.

--

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Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email: Dominicanamalisima@gmail.com

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Briana L. Urena-Ravelo

Briana L. Urena-Ravelo

Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email: Dominicanamalisima@gmail.com