Even If the Full-Blood Family Don’t Claim Us

"Mixed," a poem by jessica Care moore, excerpted from We Want Our Bodies Back

Even If the Full-Blood Family Don’t Claim Us

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 I pray
 on my great GrandFather’s feathers

 —the ones you don’t respect— 
That you never dare call me


 when i have been a nigger anytime 
 you felt like it.

 I’m from an army of glowing yellow/black princesses 
 some of us indigenous. we know.
 even if the full-blood family don’t claim 

 We all one caste system away from 
 spiritual death.

 i’m mixed.
 I’m mixed with Moors and anybody from Alabama
 I’m mixed with kool milds & sometimes cigars

 british tea & southern comfort

 Apartheid & Jim Crow
 My shoe shine black
                                    no shield, no mask—nothing removeable.
 I’ve always taken my blackness to dinner
 Worn it in the shower, shared it with my lovers
 Never asked permission to be who I am
 Or changed my voice to fit the description
 land the job
 not scare away the boys
 body still recovering from the thunderous pull of
 a Jamaican crowd hauling me

 down into their sea of calabash eyes

 They tell me
 they feel my spirit
 in their Treasure Beach chest.
 I know you didn’t hear it
 Your seashell speaker remains broken 
 or maybe you just

 not to hear my 
 leveed lips. Water 
 when it’s rising
 In winter black girls are bright super moons 
 waiting for you to notice.
 they glow
 twice as beautiful inside
 a quiver of cold breath pushes out our bodies 
 It’s winter in america, again;
 the subtle sound of survival.
 a wolf howls at the indifferent morning 
 we are always mourning. in black.
 we don’t choose this pain. these colors.

 We swallow our ivory keys
 Our sharps & flats, an enharmonic black scream:
 The way Ponchai Sankofa Wilkerson held a key 
 Under his tongue and spit it out
 before they executed him 
 We know freedom.

 Is just one fuck you
 Away from being this poem.

 We didn’t choose to scrape
 samples of our organs back together 
 sew what was left of America inside
 A matted flag
 woven beneath the delicate seams of 
 our children
 Born into this madness
 Our bloodline threads unbeveled 
 against each blue stitch

 I’ve worn these scars ’cross my face
 My entire life and when you asked how i got 
 Them, I said
 “An angel touched me.”
 I earned the right to my own damn mythology 
 What else do we have left
 our bodies reduced to all that matters 
 inside fragile feminism courses.
 There is zero removal of this 
 Nina Simone

 | Black. |

 My British born, Canadian raised mother 
 never asked me to
 So, why you?
 She raised a black girl 
 Who loved to read; put
 Alice Walker and Hansberry
 in my hands.
 I’m mixed
 buffalo & eagle 
 hampton & hooks
 Tear gas & Standing Rock
 Front line women & crooks
 holocaust & genocide 
 horses & low-rides

 I survived.
 This poem is my proof of life 
 Your paperwork, never worked.
 I understand why you worry when 
 A drop of blood swims back to shore

 Moore babies

From We Want Our Bodies Back by jessica Care moore. Reprinted with the permission of the 
publisher Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins. Copyright © 2020 by jessica Care moore.

cover image for book We Want Our Bodies Back, title and three women

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