Before everything else,
I am water.
The Thames was nice and so was the Schuylkill,
The Potomac too, I think.
I remember the Nile. The Great Lakes. The Chesapeake Bay
Like when my uncle joined our field trip and sat in a boat full of small Muslim children
and they had never been this close to any black man before and we waited softly on the water and I thought to myself, yes, this is what it means (to float!)–
Like that / . / My friends say, you are depressed
You are broken, where ought we go tonight
You are hurting, you pick
And I say: the Algonkian!
Take me by the bank of something alive,
Like when I was too young to wear hijab and too child to not roll
my pants up beyond my knees and wade into the Colorado creek in my navy crocs
Me and my wild haired sisters in the midst of all those tall, quiet white folk
And we told each other it was a fairy wonderland and we were the
heroines and I remember,
(the swell of heartbreak when evening reluctantly docked itself),
Take me somewhere that cannot die but is so alive it is
Impossible to be anything other than so, so, so, mortal
The clear glassiness of the Lake Fairfax
The dark and swirled skin of the Anacostia
The dirt piled up
The litter foamed at the surface
The tires and dead tree trunks
that gain bodies again in the current / in the waves / in the movement
between the tiny fish and the really thick mosquito air,
Like when we clamored into the tiny speed boat that launched into the Nile off the
bank that was overgrown but still, ours
and the driver said there were only three lifejackets for the seven
of us and laughed at my mother’s face and my face and my father’s
how American of us!, how foreign and strange and so wrong to be this
of so close an ancestor / a grandparent / a home / a graveyard / a road / a river,
and a river!
and a river!
and a river at the end of it all.