Mayda del Valle at the White House Poetry Jam (2 of 8)

(applause) grandmother our common thread
began in my mama’s womb spun my fetus like a
record in her cipher sampled your stubborn and
mixed in her fathers posture our connection is full circle abuela you bearer of children you seer of spirits you are truly miraculous you are the whispers of
litanies and white tablecloths your melody is captured in the spilled
candle wax of my skin my tongue’s a broken needle
scratching through the
grooves of a lost wisdom trying to find a faith
that beats like yours what secrets do your bones hold? what pattern does your
dust settle into when
I beat these drums inside my ribs? what color was the soil of
your grandmothers garden? grandma how did you pray? did you store the memory
of your creator in strands
of hair tucked into scented soap boxes or placentas
buried under avocado trees? what reservoir did you
pull your faith from? was it anything like this gumbo this sancocho this remix of rituals and
chants sampled from muscle
memory and spirits that visit my dreams that I struggle
to stir into discipline to honor the unseen with these shells this sage
these rudraksha and rosary beads these white candles
crystals statues this sweet water honey
rum and sweetgrass abuela how did you pray
before someone told you
who your god should be? how did you hold the earth
in your hands and thank
her for its fecundity did the sea wash
away your sadness how did you humble yourself
before your architect did you lower
yourself to your knees or rock to the rhythm
of ocean waves like I do grandma how did you pray? some say faith is for
the weak or small minded but I search for
your faith everywhere need it to reassemble myself
whole from these shards of
Chicago ice and island breezes so I can rewrite the songs
of your silence and pain your lonely fists broken
toothed smile and burdens into a medley of mantras wish you could have
shown me it’s shape but I know it’s in
every sacred breath in the shadow of trees
that you visit me in in the flicker of flames I stare
into searching for what’s divine and I know my body is the
instrument my maker uses
to rearrange the broken chords of your history
into a new symphony for my
unborn children’s feet to dance to and I see
you grandmother gathering with your sistren to chant the names of the living
and the dead and remind us all that whether gathered
in marble temples around a midnight fire
or block party speakers we have always raised our
hands to the sky trying to
touch the invisible force that holds these cells
together into a fragile mass children of different
nations but the same vibration we be sound to beat to
bass to bone to flesh we be sound to beat to
bass to bone to flesh we are all truly miraculous (cheering and applause) ♪♪

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