a self-portrait poem
The Mystery of Identity
The doll in the stroller is African.
I have made sure she is well-rugged up
in this cold air. She stares at strangers
with that naked naïve curiosity
all children the world over have.
When they are not too hungry.
Twenty-two years later I listen
to expatriate children fling insults
and swear in three languages.
I watch the universal dialects
of acceptance and exclusion
produce the expected results.
“Centuries ago,” she says. “You
were a slave.” I think I probably
died on the voyage if that’s so.
I have no memory of being owned.
I am one of this era’s independent
women. That’s all I know.