—souls connecting and bonding, as one poet here would have it—
are rooted in place.Are we from the same place?
you might think when you meet someone who gives you a familiar sensation.
My body is only one place
my spirit has been over the course of the universe.
I call my grandmother to listen to her tell me about who I come from.
She tells me about Alabama, Negro Church Road, 1950s Lawrence County.
Then Cleveland. An uncle who drank her liquor; his wife who stole her panties.
She tells me about people my blood has run through, but whom I will never meet,
stories I’ve seen only as numbers and misspelled names on Census and city records.
She calls me Elsie—my great-grandmother I never met—because my father says
she comes out of my face sometimes.
And I remember that this body is only one place my spirit has been
over the course of the universe.
I have been here before. I have met you,
I say reading the poems and stories here.
I say learning what kind of folk, what kind of place
these writers come from.
I have never lived through war,
or sat shiva, but I too grew up in
a telescopic city / like Bethlehem
that the rest of the world ignores,
while the kin around me perish
Some of the writers here have written into a self-awareness
only after leaving such a place, people
as landmarks, and returning.
Some of the writers are grappling with a world in which returning
The people who have raised him have disappeared / into a neighborhood
Quintos’ speaker says of her father.
But all of the writers here keep their kinfolk alive.