(For: Domestics, Our Unsung Heroines)
gentrification invades our eyes with its growing visual stench. our love
putting food on our tables, cleaning invader’s homes. it is our need we hear,
when their children call us by our first names. we fold into ourselves, never
dismissing this herstorical violation.
diamonded mothers stroll casually, speaking on phones and window
shopping. while we domestics disguised as nannies push carriages, with
children old enough to walk. there is no equality in this poem, only constant
reminders of ancestral enslavement, apartheid and their grandfathers jim
crow. no neighbor, no friendship, only their great great grandmother’s
generational handed down, privilege, entitlement and matriarchal beliefs of
ownership. greed bleeding low wages and stolen labor.
it is love we breathe in deeply, each morning boarding buses and trains,
preparing ourselves to clean becky’s filthy house. these markers reminders
of classes divided by skin and memory. purpose brings us here, to these
shores. promises of citizenship and always a better way of life. it is these
promises, this seduction that temporarily cools the fires burning in our
heads. our silence does not translate into docility and acceptance. we are
both masters of this understood and agreed on generational deception, in this
dance between the haves and have nots, women and opposing cultures. our
smiling lies hide our revulsion, thoughts of our goals and freedom.
An earlier version of this poem was originally published in MER 16.
Lorraine Currelley: poet, spoken word performance artist, Bronx Beat Poet Laureate 2020-2022, Pearls of Wisdom storyteller, art/literary curator and multidisciplinary artist. Executive director at Poets Network & Exchange and Bronx Book Fair. She’s widely anthologized publications include but are not limited to From the Ancestors: Poems and Prayers for Future Generations edited by Ron Whitehead, Trancemission Press, Writing the Walls 2020, and Climbing the Walls 2020, Resistance, 2020 and Abrazos 2021 Writing for Peace Publishers. Membership Poets & Writers, AWP, National Writers Union, The Studio Museum in Harlem and Hudson Valley MOCA. Founding member and former President of The Harlem Arts Fund. She says, “My words are mine and the freed tongues of my ancestors.”