on lazy sundays when my parents decide to dig up a question they’ve buried and unearthed and buried again in undecided life, they ask me what i would name my children. whether they would be endowed with a name of rich soil, sweet and plump like a doughy mango, blessed with a kiss from sweet nigeria herself. or whether they would be betrayed by the english, someone whose name robs and robs us of ourself and wrings all the mango nectar out of us with impatient hands, rough and leathery.
but it’s only the star-tickled black, the african american, the blooming nigerian, the nigerian american tending to a bruised calla lily and the american who flips the question over on its back, sitting safe in my belly. they flicker to the soothsaying rhythm of my heartbeat, and prepare my pounded-yam-stuffed body for a blooming that will never come.
anger like molasses and honey swirls through my body, and you turn away from me for it, and now the map of my heartland is lost in my skin. and for how i speak and how you speak and how i seem, you taunt me not to look for it anymore. you, who poured sour milk inside my brain cavity, only for it to overrun when you ask me what i am.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.