So where are you from? He asks.
I’m sucking down a cigarette with my last five minutes. I’ve been on the clock forever, and not trying to get into some bullshit.
Ohio, I say curtly, but I’ve been here in Kentucky for a long time now.
No, where are you FROM, from, he asks.
A hamburger wrapper blows by my feet, eager to get away from this unfolding scene.
Where am I from, from? His question bounces around in my head, words on repeat, skipping like an old played out CD while I leave my body.
Sun in Libra, Moon in Leo, Capricorn ascendant
My journey was mapped through space and time, dependent on my mother’s breaking waters.
I am a descendant of unholy acts of violence and resilience beyond measure
A mess of contradictions, no match for 23 and me
Paternal nose, maternal eyes
A burgeoning tempest in a dark and bloody sea
I’m from kitchen witches and code switchers
loud talkers who don’t mean what they say, nor say what they mean.
I am from from that government food that comes in the black and white cans
I am from from trips on city bus to that good Goodwill
I am from from emerald isles and the sweet Caribbean breeze.
I am from from an immigrant parent’s comfort food and trauma
I am from from Catholic mass with grandma, the opiate of the masses, my father said.
I am from from fireflies caught at dusk after backyard barbecues
I am from from free school lunches and tongues running loose and free
I am from from musical gifts passed down through centuries
I am from from Spring soil tilled and waiting
I am from from run down houses and nosy neighborhood watches
I am from from hurried walks home, dodging lecherous glances
I am from from “what are you mixed with?”
I am from from you don’t look like you’re from here
I am from from “talk to me in Spanish baby”
I am from from ¿Ella habla español?
His question is not a question, it is a signal that something doesn’t add up
It is a suggestion that I undress myself for the amusement of a stranger, so that he may place me in a box of his choosing and treat me accordingly.
He cannot comprehend that this question once had me swim beyond breaking waves to drown myself in the sorrow of not belonging.
Once had me cut the tender flesh of my arms to see what really lurked inside
Once had me drawing self portraits of blonde haired, blue eyed girls.
But where are you from from doesn’t gut me like it used to, it just pisses me off.
I imagine taking my fist and smashing his porcelain face into a million little pieces. I glue them back together and use them as an ashtray.
Transitioning back into my body I feel the cigarette burning my fingertips. The drive-through is backing up with a line of cars.
Breaktime is over.