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Day 7 NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo and the prompt is by no means easy. I could go back to this again and again and mine  several poems just from my initial list. Identity is a big theme and just think of the associations that get blurted out – fraud, theft, multiple. But what I have mulled over all day is the city mouse/country mouse dichotomy of my own life story. And yes, as I wrote the poem the categories of power and vulnerability oscillated from my original assessment.

Here is the text from the website’s prompt for Day 7:

In our interview, Kyle Dargan suggests writing out a list of all of your different layers of identity. For example, you might be a wife, a grandmother, a Philadelphian, a dental assistant, a rabid Phillies fan, a seamstress, retiree, agnostic, cancer survivor, etc.. These are all ways you could be described or lenses you could be viewed through. Now divide all of those things into lists of what makes you feel powerful and what makes you feel vulnerable. Now write a poem in which one of the identities from the first list contends or talks with an identity from the second list. This might turn out to be kind of a “heavy” exercise, emotionally, but I hope you will find the results enlightening.

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It’s official

certified

stamped on my passports

my status as

native New Yorker

fourth generation arriving

as one in six million stories

in the Naked City

in the Empire State

at the centre of the known world

in 1956

 

excepting my centre of gravity

(unlike my big brother’s)

is not the subway A train

My pencil pushing Dad

was transferred by his employer to the Poconos

so from 1957

I grew up in the small town

that forged and fabricated

those cars clacketing under bridges

diving through tunnels

 

I know more about snow

potluck suppers

and party lines

than rock salted streets

Parsons Boulevard

and stimulation 24/7

 

I know that insomnia

can copulate with silence

cicadas and lightening bugs

as much as in

streets numbered in their hundreds

blazing light

and the shushing of midnight traffic

snaking along the Expressway

 

I know how to live large

in some place small

learning there how to be

someone who leaves

to have a life beyond

to pretend the power of the streets

but to know more about

navigating the unknown

off the grid plan

 

yet

I also know

that the Unisphere

is my very own

birthright

which may say something

about what is transmitted

in more than DNA

with that stamp

that certifies

me

and my dichotomies

 

©2018 Bee Smith

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