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Alyss

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I’m gonna build you a house

with no walls
that don’t also double
as wings. This home
will cut through pollution and hail storms
and chart out secret courses with the bees
on your behalf.

I’m gonna build you a house and you can take it
whenever you get that urge to

go, just go

and take the roof with you. Invite your mama
and your sisters and your aunties and they grand babies
to live in it with you,

in the clouds. There will be enough room
for anyone you love
because you are the daughter of a daughter

who was always on the run
from no one in particular,
just her bones weren’t built
to stay put, a thing

hardwired in her
DNA, some cellular desire,

an echo
of an even greater migration
our kin made not so long ago
and maybe that’s how it got to be
so easy to bear, Section 8 slumlords
who picked up on the scent
of that exodus

racing through our blood.

That’s why
I’m gonna build you a house
and use my tears as bricks;
this house needs to be fire-proof

because right before you were born
the apartment burned down.

And when you were 11
the apartment burned down.

And when you were 13
your mother dreamt
ya’ll needed to move. That Saturday

you packed up everything you owed
and by Sunday, ya’ll were already gone. Come Monday
your classmates rushed over to tell you how sorry they were to learn

your house burned down,
it was all over the news.

That’s why,
I’m gonna build you a house
and no, it won’t be rooted in nothing
but these feathery memories.
For all I know

people who say
home is where the heart is
ain’t never met a heart like yours.

Your home has been in so many places
and I gladly receive them, inheritances that they are
but in this home

I am building,
let this contraption of my heart take you there
wherever there needs to be.

Sagirah Shahid