Where are you from?

Where are you from?
where are you from?”
they’ll ask, politely,
and when you answer “here”,
they say “no seriously, where?”
And though the London in your
voice rings loud and clear,
they wonder if the culture
to which you adhere,
is really “from here”.
And though you accentuate every letter
they’ll forget that they, too, were once settlers,
as the rich mahogany of the Africa on your skin,
and the cool curls of the Caribbean in your hair
do not reflect the answer they
want to hear.
where are you from then?”
they’ll insist
and when you tell them you were
born in Archway, they’ll persist
until you tell the story
of how
your mother was dressed light and plain,
as she fled across the desert plains,
far too afflicted to afford a plane
to bring her to civilisation.
And as you insist that this is all you know,
will they do that smile and nod? Oh
that condescending smile and nod;
or will they take your word and
accept the answer you
provide when they ask? Unrest
will grip them as they wonder why you digress
about the land on which
your mother took her first breath,
disregarding the land on which
you first nursed from her breast,
“it’s one or the other”,
never allowing you to have the best
of both worlds; always reminded that your folks were blessed
to have landed in the West
when tropical tempests
blew them from their nests.
Always reminded of the trials and tests
that resulted in your grandmother being suppressed,
of how she went from conquered to oppressed
and her sacred ancestral lands, suddenly repossessed.
they’ll forget how valiantly grandpops fought
for King and country, as he was taught
that this would free them… so they thought.
And, when your father whispers
in front of them,
to what extent
does his accent,
heavy weighted like cement,
and his English, bent
the laws in the country his tongue represents,
where Kings or Presidents
silence the voice of civil discontent
with swords and guns and armament,
tell me, do they accept
that you are from here?
“So, where are you from?”
they ask once more, with baited breath,
waiting to hear of your war-torn lands,
your lawless lands,
which, since they left it in pieces,
has never known what peace is.
And now you’re too foreign for there,
but still too foreign for here,
so the idea that you could be longing
for a place you don’t belong in…
is absurd,
and so word for word
as if the first hundred times went unheard
“where are you from?”
A nomad in your own home, with
a new root unrooted with
each new curious person
who says “no seriously, where?”
though the London in your voice
rings loud and clear
as you answer
– N.M
The Move

2 thoughts on “Where are you from?

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