Family

Poetry by Michelle Dodd
Issue 53 • July 2017 • Richmond

Why you wanna fly Blackbird you ain't ever gonna fly
No place big enough for holding all the tears you're gonna cry
And they call you little sorrow cause you'll never love again.”

People don't believe my white parents love me. They think pitty,
    Or charity,
        Or privileged signatures on paper.

Adoption is a joke that gets played out.
They think a cute black girl hung from an arm of a rich white person.
They think family means
    To be related by blood,
        Birds of a feather flock together.
They think, “Why you wanna fly Blackbird you ain't ever gonna fly”,
like I have to resemble the struggle of grandparents,
Inherit murder of crows feet circling their eyes.
They think that I have lost my nest;
    Picked like a crayon,
        A black to fill white space,
            The background.
People who think my white parents don’t truly love me
never hear the melody in our hugs,
our smiles,
from father and mother to daughter.
They believe that accents don't make a difference in a symphony.
They say, “You ain't got no one to hold you you ain't got no one to care.”

My parents say,
We are not going to teach her to run.
We are going to raise her to fly.
She will break through steel plated bird cages,
like your ribs,
she will reach into your chest, and take a hold of your pulse with such compassion,
It will break the stigma your close-mindedness.
I am proof,
that love is not formed by blood.
Love is formed by want, and
I will always want to fly above the bullshit,
and believe that I was created as an accent to their unfinished melodies.

No one
Sees how my family's mixed color represents
How covalent our bond is.
We love like the legs of a kitchen table,
holding our meals and grace and prayers.
We love like broken is not in our vocabulary.
We are sun-filled eyes peering over horizons in our back yard .
We are not puzzle pieces.
Our love isn't missing any parts.
We are every ink blot on sheet music.
We are the fibers of the rings of life on trunks of trees.
We are dalmatians trusting the that our spots will never go anywhere without us.
Flying is our crawling.
Soaring feels just like hovering.
The wingspan of angels, should not be measured by the color of their feathers.
But, let the doubters tell it …

    All I hear is …
        “So why you wanna fly,
            Blackbird you ain't ever gonna fly?”

Michelle Dodd is a spoken word artist based in Richmond. She is Program Director of The Writer's Den and a member of their award-winning Poetry Slam Team. She also coaches the Virginia Union University Slam Team. This piece is a selection from Torrent, Dodd’s recently published poetry collection tracing her personal history as an adoptee.

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