I Come From
after Tina Chang
by STARR DAVIS
The sunken dip of a used mattress. The sweat of an underwired breast cup. Toilet
tanks: The places where poor people hide their money. Cinders. Pipes. Ashtrays. The
very crease of a rolling paper, from my mother’s spine, and hipbone.
I come from the crackling of rocks. Cans. Flesh. From the streets where I learned
people are the most expensive drug you can buy. Cheap places: crack houses, corner
Tambourines beaten bloodied by praying hands. Tongues. Raised hands. Kneeling. I
come from the crevasse between thumb and index finger. I come from succulent.
I come from the screech of a screen door, the chime of handcuffs, the flicks of fire. I
remember the first time I sold my body. I was a pamphlet. Bindless. I come from that:
worn pages of bibles no one reads.
I remember the first time I lost myself in a sentence. Period blood, running on. A
comma misplaced in the middle of some boy’s obsession with my body. I come the
scratch of a Blue’s record at night and the rage from a rap song in the morning.
The travailing of crows and sneakers on wires. The aged chicken grease in cupboards.
The sounds of a woman faking an orgasm. The sounds of men leaving. Ringing
phones. Collect calls. Dial tones.
From darkness. The oily waters from my sisters’ bath. I come from seconds.
Reheating. Returning. Thrifting through food pantries, through boxes of toys white
people don’t want no more. Yard sales. Auctions. From the reselling of things.
My body is waiting for me in a backroom somewhere at somebody cousin’ house.
Maybe the interest has gone up. And it has grown wings. Flew away. And maybe it
hasn’t. Maybe it has settled. And has become one of those slaves, that falls in love
with its master:
I come from that too.