I Am

l am

gap tooth black girl

back corner of class

scribbling left-handed

poetry on blank paper

save the school's

curriculum for later


I am

overflowing tales by moonlight

trickling off the tip

of my grandmothers tongue

you will find my mother

tongue here


fast and fluent Yoruba

criss crossing English

hidden messages in

prose and proverbs

call it Yorubanglish


l am

the miracle of melody

nestled deep in the groove

of rich hi-life rhythms

a child

of the marriage

of hip-hop and afro beats


you can hear our voices

pulsing beneath the skin

of a talking drum

commanding hips to move

without caution

but caution

this is where a woman is born

where she learns the infinite

connection between her waist line

and the baseline


l am

sky high gele

bold and beautiful

meets stretch skinny jeans

we redefine style

wear our stories around our necks

and from our ears

so we never forget

the voices of ancestors


l am

what they never

taught you in history books

legacies of age old traditions

incantations of ancient griots

a nation of story tellers

the beautiful and the broken

the struggling and the surviving

the ones they said

would never make it


this is who

l am

Bibliographical info

Titilope Sonuga, "I am" Copyright @2020 by Titilope Sonuga. Reprinted by permission of the author.

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