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Daughter of the Diaspora: A Poem by Itoro Paul

Daughter of the Diaspora

I live here now
Was born here and may die here now
Memories are rooted in stirring fufu in a tiny pot now
Fufu made out of jiffy mix
Bought at a Price Chopper (exactly 2 dollars and fifty cents)
Put it in a pot and stir till it becomes nice and thick
“It’s supposed to clump together and should be able to form itself into a ball,” Mama would say, “But remember child…real fufu don’t really taste that way.”
“We’re trying to get the flavor I was used to back home.” Mama would say, say to me.
“Does it come close?” I respond.
Mama laughs, “Not really.”

I live here now
Memories are rooted in eating fufu when it’s 5 degrees out
Or singing Nigerian gospel songs quietly instead of singing out loud
Mama says, “We usually sing these songs out loud till everyone sings…
but we’ll try to sing these songs more quietly.
Can’t wake the neighbors now.”
My voice carries little traces of another place
I’m not anything like Mama
Memories are rooted in reading Morrison and singing like Nina now
And finding any black woman who looks like my image
Mama says, “Child, you are African but you’re different now. You’re a child born in America. And you’ll experience different layers of pains and pressures now. So you can teach me and I’ll teach you. ‘Cause I’m thinking of going back home and home seems to be here for you…now.”

Mama’s been trying to get me to go back…back home
“I’d like us to live there some day,”
Mama says, says to me
She’s speaking as if she’s caught in a dream
“We’ll eat real fufu, sing Nigerian gospels loudly, and it won’t be 5 degrees out.”
Mama says.
I think it would be nice to go…and see,
“But I don’t think I can stay there Mama…I think I’m meant to be here now.”
Mama breaks out of her nostalgia.
“True child,” Mama says, says to me,
“You live here now. You’ll visit but you may not stay…guess we’ll have to wait and see. Guess we’ll have to wait and see…now.”


(c) Itoro Paul

Itoro Paul
Itoro Paul
Itoro Paul lives in the United States.


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