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No Country for Daughter

Takier George

And what is a smile to a foreigner
But a gift of whispers
Yes, my mother grew up there
Counted the pebbles on the roads with her fingers until she bled
Leaving a trail all the way to America

They remember her thin and young
So, she cleans herself up on the way back,
Washing away almost all evidence off who she was
Only scars and skin left

They think leaving changed her
Put a curve in her back that only a airport seat going in the opposite direction of them could love
As if she wouldn’t have metamorphosed the minute there was a change of scenery
Cocooned in her mothers house for too long

The minute she left she learned of echoes
That bounced o the shiny pamphlet full of beautiful things,
None of those beautiful things ever being her town, or favorite shop
A knowledge like that begged to be kept in her mind
Begged to be returned to
So, when she visited, the echoes followed

And all anyone could talk about was how much weight they held, she held
Y’all know how folks like to talk
How they spot foreigners from their smell alone
And yes, my mother grew up there

But the body she presented in didn’t
Neither did her voice
Tongue tight with pronunciations that weren’t there before
Pronunciations that I reminded her of everyday of my youth

Cus’ going to school saying
Urange and not orange, was psychological warfare
And is it so wrong to want to feel normal?
My normal became requests to hear my Jamaican accent

Giggles hidden behind lunch boxes
I think I would’ve preferred the gift of whispers, too

But back to my mother and our country of Trinidad and Tobago
(Not Jamaica)

I call it our country, here
But me, I never lived there

Her second American born child
Grasping for memories from an Island that offered me none
Knew nothing of me
Only hearing whispers of who my mother was from time to time

In an Island so hot, the cold still greeted me before the people
They’d y away to their homes as their noses caught scent of me
Complaining when the air couldn’t carry me too
To them, I was nothing but a body of a daughter claimed by a body of a woman they used to know

So now, I take only small bites of culture at a time
Just enough to keep me living til our next visit
I imagine the younger me could have kept up in conversation
Now, I stay quiet,
Only speaking when spoken to
Afraid that they might decide that I am just like my mother

A growing, foreign thing
A nightmare of an echo
A lost-forever memory

So, what is a smile to a foreigner
But a laugh behind closed doors?
This isn’t normal, is it?
To belong nowhere?

Homesick for a place that has never
Will never want me.



Takier George is a spoken word artist from the DMV area. George is a full-time student at Howard University majoring in English (with a concentration in creative writing) and a minor in tv and film production. From 2018 to 2020, George was a member of the D.C. Youth Slam Team. In 2019, George  and her team members performed at Brave New Voices, the largest international teen poetry slam competition in Las Vegas. George has also performed at venues like the Arlington Country Blues Festival, the Library of Congress, and The Kennedy Center. In 2020 and 2021, George was published in Sterling Notes Literary Journal. She is currently working on her first chapbook. 

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