oh say
             can you see
it is five am and the babysitter watches my children
i reset the metrobus route before dawn
and float to work

by two years time
my child walks to school and you cut her short
                        how do you say
                        no culture is lost through the length
                                     of a proudly hailed name?

my seed grows in my belly
              tyler house
                         then fourteenth street
                         a child made up of carpet-burned legs
                         blue magic & okra
                         & over the years
                         my sickly thing blooms spectacular
amidst the smog & humid air & rot
             i tell you
it is a miracle you did not kill us both
                                                  where are your monuments to us?

there is no perilous fight untethered to a greencard
in my passport, i soften my eyes for the camera’s flash
on your dollars, your saints look away

in this country
your language mangles community into something
            so fraught and strained
                        two ms refusing to touch,
                                                            a distanced, eternal          y

in my language, when children ask why we say
             “because y has a long tail”
in yours, you ask why this response
                                    i have not yet learned how to say
                                                  not all needs an answer.
                                                                                         let it go.

there is no freedom in isolation
             no bravery in swallowed tears
my years here feel like germs in
an incubator sometimes
                                      multiplying themselves
           before i can catch my breath.

most days,
my pain breaks anthem form
the stanzas cannot contain themselves
              ar no sabi di words dem sef

when my hand touches my heart
                         it is to heal pain the only way i know
when i kneel
                         it is on my mother’s old prayer mat
                                     face to sun
                                                  hand to god
when i stand
                         it is because my back bends no other way

believe me
             in a few years
             you couldn’t tell me
             or the statue of liberty apart.




Fullamusu Bangura is a poet originally from Washington, D.C. and currently residing in Chicago, Illinois. Her work has been published in Peach Mag, Apogee Journal, & Cosmonauts Avenue (forthcoming). Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter at @killamusu.