I was the poet of short-tailed cats and yellow
Of satellite dishes and Peterbilt trucks. Red Man
—C. D. Wright
I am your ancestor. You know
nothing about me.
There is no need
for you to know my faint
upper lip hair, the mole
on my hairline, my favourite
perfume, or my favourite flower.
You didn’t know what made me
cry. I was the poet on the run,
of cycling by the marina, the
eavesdropper of magical
conversations on the underground.
I was the poet of biryani
joints, unsmoked cigarettes
and lovers like tattoos.
A poet of shrinking violet
and delicate sweet peas
trailing on the green trellis
behind the garage. Of whisky,
of purple mascara, of mini skirts
and boots. Of Camden Town,
India and everything in between.
I was the poet of mermaids
and unicorns. The poet of impossible
hope and unerring faith. Of open
mics and poetry slams. Of kohl
lined eyes and palms of henna
in a world of blue jeans and white
shirts and blonde hair.
The future didn’t matter to me. After
a while, the past didn’t either.
I loved to say, in every breath
we die, in every breath we are
I don’t expect you to know me. You,
of designer clothes, fancy cars
and a house in the right neighbourhood.
I agreed to be the poet who lived
in this one breath. Believing
that we only remember one life.
I have seen myself in the black
car. I have seen the retreat
of the black car. I have smelled
the lilies at the grave.