My father gestures when he speaks –
the deep lines in his hands remind me
of palm tree trunks, grooved and dark
under a red djembe sun. In Nigeria
where we come from, he says,
each of our names is an heirloom.
We wear our beginnings
like round brass beads.
He drapes me in birthright, origin.
The pride of his cassava
and newspaper kites. Faith,
passed from his own father,
the worth of shined shoes,
early rising, a clean oven.
He holds out for me
whole days of his story
in their loud, heavy colors.
I tie them around my head,
my ankles, walk around in them.
This poem was selected for the inaugural LMC Creative Writing Award, which recognizes and commends the best creative writing text (poem, story, screenplay, novel, etc.) produced in any LMC or English class at Georgia Tech. The poem was written by Sarah Oso for Dr. Karen Head’s LMC 3234 Creative Writing Class in Fall 2016. Texts that are found to be extraordinary are submitted by professors.
This is what Sarah had to say about her piece:
“The thing about stories is that they beg to be told, to be held on to. They cling to you. They follow you around so you’ll share them. And we do share them. But I think there’s a certain kind of magic that happens when someone else’s story becomes yours to keep. And there’s another kind of magic that happens when you look down and find threads of those other stories now woven with your own.”
Sarah won $250 and will be honored at the annual James Dean Young Awards Dinner that is hosted by the School of Literature, Media, and Communication on April 27th, 2017. Congratulations Sarah!