My story began before I did,
Written on leather and linen,
Papyrus and stone.
I was born in the taint of the oppressor
Stained white with a fabricated purity
Invented by men
Then forced into the mouth of God
My story was hammered into drying clay
Like pigeons’ feet
Across the centuries.
My myths were chanted
Around snow-ringed fire pits
And quilled onto leaves of hemp.
I cannot deny what has been braided
Into the sinews of my skeleton.
My story began years before I did:
This skin I wear was stitched
From killers of witches
And slayers of Indians
And enslavers of Africans.
This sin was born of the false piety
Of misguided faith.
O, that I could peel this skin like a snake!
But the venom that poisons this blood
Is not drained so easily as that.
My story began years before I did
But it does not end until my final breath.
— ptkh 051517