When Grandma was seventeen,
her house was boarded up
her parents gone.
The constant low murmuring of my childhood
story after story whispered in my ear
an IV drip of history
too much for any five year old to take.
And I knew things no five year old should know
and I felt things no five year old should feel,
and it changed me.
And now I am seventeen.
This is my heritage,
grown up around me like my own
barbed wire prison.
Wrapping, twisting around me like a vine
teaching me things no seventeen year old should know.
And looking out from behind my eyes
not just me
but a multitude, and I am only one among them.
I am possessed
by the eyes I can’t look away from
in pictures in museums.
I have parents’ grief for their children
long before my time.
And I know
that despite the confusion and pain and doubt
and the knowing
will have the same.
As it should be.