Elizabeth Oxley


for my daughter

Some people stare,
searching for a Judas bone,
but all they can find
are the stems of your arms,
the sleek plunge of femur
into socket.

These are the usual things,
and why shouldn’t they be?
You were not a provision
of armistice or treaty.
You were not born to be
nation or diaspora.

The love that made you
was simple as the sounds
at breakfast: clink of pan
on stove, scraping-back of chair.
No slave ever rocked
inside the boat of your hips,
no explorer pried open
an African river.

They say the ancestors
reside in a sacred grove.
Your homeland is wherever
you stand. If the gaze lingers,
it’s on your spine, straighter
than the fence lines
at Gettysburg.