When you find yourself in a far away land
surrounded by men, animals that mutter strange
sounds, do not be afraid: neither you, your parents,
nor your ancestors have ever been alone,
so trust the earth to bear you up, follow
the wind as it leads you through valleys
clustered with trees heavy with fruit--
some that seem familiar enough to eat,
but you still aren't sure they are the same
as the ones you left on the other side
of the river that you've now forgotten.
Eat. Feast on the bounty. Feed the fire
that burns away the knot in your stomach,
sets ablaze the horizon, all that your eyes
can see--that has been promised
to you since your cry pierced the morning air:
your parents bathed you with kisses,
baptized you with caresses,
swaddled you in care before you uttered
your first words to the moon, sun, stars,
wobbled your first steps into unknowing--
all the while rising into your inheritance.
And if you awaken under the branches of a cotton
tree, cradled in its roots, draw a circle around
yourself and all those whom you love, cross
yourself three times before you step over
the threshold. Welcome the ancestors--
all the kindly spirits--who have followed you,
your parents across many seas, oceans,
and deserts; entertain them with strong drink
and soft food: rice, yams, bananas, the ever
present rum to bless the hands that have lifted
you up, sanctified the place you now call home.
I'll be taking a break for the summer and I'll be back
on September 7, 2009.
Take care of yourselves and your loved ones.