after Jericho Brown
When people ask when I first began to write,
I think of the walls I first ran my greasy fingers along.
The homes I would never call my own
but would be called home by everyone who knew me.
I knew the walls though – the peeling paint and the damp.
I remember the comfort in magnolia.
I remember how each bedroom felt like a canvas
for words rather than paints. I screamed into the space
rather than my pillowcase and I made immature love
to oxygen keeping me buoyant in the hours of childhood:
the fairy gardens and the power I felt itching
beneath my skin.
I wrote because, in truth, I believed I was a witch.
Unburnt. A parable, a warning about why you shouldn’t walk
for too long in the dark.
But the power quivers at my fingertips and I unloose
the quiver at my back, dip arrows in ink, weave stories
from the words my mother taught me
and remember the walls, the ones which were not mine
but I vowed to build my own.
A poem is a gesture toward home
so when people ask when I first began to write,
I remember the comfort in magnolia
and the promises I made to keep.