Totem

Even when I was just an infant, my mother says

I hated being tucked in, weighed down,

albeit by a piece of cloth. I would squirm and squiggle

my way out from under, until the blanket was a crumpled

heap at my feet. Then, I would stuff my chubby fists

into my mouth

and gurgle a happy gurgle.

Upon turning four I discovered the wonders

of superman and airplanes and birds- how they were built to fly.

Naturally, I put on my underwear, spread out my arms

and zoomed brazenly across the streets. You see,

I was at an age where ignorance was abound-

ignorant

of judgmental eyes and accusatory tones. When they asked

me to put on pants, I would point to

the animals; when they told me a bird

would lay eggs in my crow-nest hair, I delighted

in the possibility of learning to soar. When they gave me shoes,

I refused to crush the grass beneath them. The earth

was my feral nourishment.

The native Americans, they believe

that every member of the tribe has

nine spirit animals. They guide them through

to the very end. Yet the totem, the protector,

shares your core, knows you in ways you

may never know yourself, right down

to your pygmy heart.

As I grew up,

I began to grow in.

I folded my wings, puckered empowerment

beneath denims,

cleaned out the filth cached beneath my toes,

smoothed the hair,

pruned the extras,

tucked the excesses,

straightened the gait, fell bait

to their taming.

You see, they were built to tame,

to declaw paws into feet,

wings into arms,

flight into a stroll,

dreams into reality.

They almost had me thinking

that there is sovereignty in these

concrete jungles.

No more.

Tell the wolves

I’m coming home.

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