the man across the street wants to know how many countries deep is my wound. i think he means to
ask for my name, so i give it to him. i watch the man’s teeth tear into the first thing my father gifted
me. carry me like a piece of charred meat he is doing a favor. maybe the wound is the aftertaste.
maybe he means to ask where I come from & expects it to be pain
& what is the point of origin,
i come from dirt & to dirt i shall return. which is to say, every step I take is an ode to a finite feeling
a reminder to humble my spine & memorize the way back. the universe does not owe us anything
not even an answer to where i come from.
i come from every possible crack i manage to call home
i come from returning
i come from a people first before i ever come from a country.
i am an old town on the west bank of the Blue Nile – the one my mother comes from & my father
claims though he is city boy through & through. i am part the improbable love that grew between
them & the compromise that kept them from falling apart
most days, i come from the beating drum of a people who manage to sing themselves alive
in the face of a bullet. or a beating. or both. i come from well of resilience where the rock never hits
bottom & i imagine a world that is just that. boundless, without the borders we create & call
naturally-occuring. we see people walk across invisible lines & call it criminal
no piece of passport has ever made me feel at home yet look at how easily we worship pieces of
paper. let them dictate who is worthy of the land beneath their feet as if it were ours to begin with
what is a nation-state but an attempt to play God with a people?
today i pledge myself to the dancing shimmer of my mother’s thobe & to the frown lines that
touched down on my baba’s forehead and got comfortable. i pledge to protect the hands that carried
me here & to look over each callus created in my name.
i pledge my love to a people.
Illustrations by Mosab Zkaria