Where I’m Coming From

I come from bagels and lox
On a Sunday morning
Cream cheese and tomato
Milk and strong coffee
The New York Times
A thousand sections
Scattered over the dining room table
Time enough to read
And warm our skin in the glow of each others quiet company

I come from the best…
Doctors in NYC
Experts in neuroscience, psychology, physics, international relations
Comparative literature, 19th century American woman naturalists
You name it
We at the top of the game it
Intellectual Brahmin feasting on the choice cut meat of our superiority

I come from the children of accountants and middle management
Dental hygienists and real estate agents
Pencil pushers and line totters
Buying Buicks and ranch houses
Filled with Wall-to-wall carpeting
plastic wrapped sofas
Color TVs
Knick-knacks, bric-a-brac, and the mass-produced hallmarks of the middle class

I come from the grandchildren of tailors and shopkeepers
Deli owners and hide tanners
Leave your name at Ellis Island but keep the noodle kugel and Yiddish inflections
Door-to-door salesmen wearing down the soles of ill-fitting shoes
Our legs, backs, and necks
–not for us, but for our children–
Until our bodies are one giant patchwork of complaints
Buckled and retired
Duty served

I come from the descendants of shtetl peasants
Broken nails on dirty fingers
Mistrust and fear
Insular and complete
Fucking at the pace of klezmer
Dancing between birthing and burying our children
Russia is a cold, hard land

I come from Act Up and Queer Nation
Potlucks and consciousness raising circles
House music and platform shoes
Bay Windows and Seattle Gay News
Empty closets
The smell of something new

I come from, “but wait, there’s more”
Deeper kept secrets marked never to be released
Slipping out of the loosening grip of my mortality in thirty year old hands
Websites poured over and studied like holy, gnostic scrolls in the early morning -glow of sleepless nights
Caches wiped clean

I come from Citizens Campaign for the Environment
Jobs with Justice
The Democratic Socialists
Gender Justice League
Student-labor conferences full of plaid shirts, corduroy, and fisherman’s sweaters
Entranceways and atriums lined with the heartfelt and dedicated
Offering partisan papers, César Chavez retrospectives and books by Mumia Abu Jamal

I come from shitty temp jobs
6am alarms
Mugs full of burnt coffee
Standing on a crowded bus swaying to the rhythm of traffic lights
Everyone’s got their cell phone out
Breakroom refrigerators full of diet sodas and orphaned paper bags
Desks littered with spreadsheets, meeting notes, and memorandum
Picking up where you left off
And watching the minute hand crawl across the mean white surface of 8 long hours

I come from too sick to work
Bright neon lights
Air-conditioned rooms in hospital gowns
Throbbing, nausea
pushing through the pain until you just…can’t…push…
Giving in
Migraine brain
Where am I going?
What was I just thinking?
Why do I have these keys in my hand?
I come from no escape

I come from the classroom
I come from the kitchen
I come from the houses of friends
I come from the garden
I come from the ocean
I come from in-between the tides
I come from the noon daylight and star strung quiet night
I come from the sound of snow falling on leaves
I come from the hardworking, lazy summer days
I come from the heart of the suburbs
I come from the back, outcast
I come from love
Touching your skin and feeling electric

I come from bagels and lox
On a Sunday morning

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