Familiar Daughter

by Connystynce Chege

The sound of the heavy rain woke me on a late August morning
Giant droplets slapped oak tree leaves
their vivid green shrouded the slightly cracked window letting in tepid summer air
The sun played touch and go behind blimpy clouds
Strolling sans umbrella through junctions to take in the atmosphere some things are clear about this place so different, so storied, and quaintly gay
A rebellious icon extends skyward amongst flags and fists
Where past meets present, where there is and there isn’t

Glittering the riverside are old train depots and graffiti embellished brick hollows of last centuries paper mill or factory site or school, their only job for now is to stand
Bookmarks in history until someone comes back to that page, maybe to highlight a mil?

The cool and powerful river snakes through knolls and overpasses, behind streets where lampposts are kept warm by hand knit fashions

Children laugh on their bikes and shoot hoops across the street
And the air of busses gathering at the depot mixes with fragrant fried oil
Bee gardens thrive in some of the alleyways and parking lots that double as skate parks

Michael Brown's name scrawled on a concrete block and the streets tell on themselves by name, of foregone tribes, of salt traders, and of Black travelers finding their way to work, and to breathe with more ease

Some of the sidewalks here are alive, reclaimed by tree roots and systems holding on to dear life

And the open sign at the African market is on 24 hours a day but you’ll only know its true because the shop door will be permanently flung open and Fatouma will be sitting outside on a lawn chair taking a long distance call

Stories about different parts of town are just as assorted as the people who tell them
So I go where I may
And a man at the party store greets me with a head-nod and ‘how you doing’,
most people do the same
The locals know how to ask for answers
Let go of flower petals and cry amongst the conifers, mushrooms, and steel that weave this spellbound hamlet echoing Greco resistance
And teaching her students to do the same