Seed of the Next Generation

Jo'Nea Mathis

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I am the second-generation seed

Of the flower my ancestors planted

My grandparents—born and raised in Jamaica—

Traveled to Ellis Island

To nourish a new garden

 

I don’t struggle like they struggled:

Wrestling with looming trees,

Just to see a bit of sunlight,

Tangling their roots into

U.S. soil.

 

I struggle differently;

I force myself to blossom before my peak,

Only to display underdeveloped petals.

I strive to prove my heritage

To show that I am black

I fight for my own patch of sunlight,

In a country that judges me:

Kills my brothers in the streets

And demands my allegiance.

I no longer stand

For the pledge.

 

Every day, I call on the strength

My grandfather must have had:

A flower embedding itself in foreign land,

Overshadowed by the looming trees.

 

I am the sapling my mother planted

Commanding my roots to stay,

Locked in the unwelcoming, unforgiving soil

Next to weeds that overwhelm me

And flowers trying to steal my light

I curve around the normal path

Between branches and leaves that to hold me back—

The limbs of society.

 

But I can’t stop fighting,

For myself and my family,

For the ones who will follow.