Poems by Jacqueline Woodson

FEBRUARY 12, 1963

I am born on a Tuesday at University Hospital
Columbus, Ohio,
USA — 
a country caught

between Black and White.

I am born not long from the time
or far from the place
my great-great-grandparents
worked the deep rich land
dawn till dusk
drank cool water from scooped-out gourds
looked up and followed
the sky's mirrored constellation
to freedom.

I am born as the South explodes,
too many people too many years
enslaved, then emancipated
but not free, the people
who look like me
keep fighting
and marching
and getting killed
so that today — 
February 12, 1963
and every day from this moment on,
brown children like me can grow up
free. Can grow up
learning and voting and walking and riding
wherever we want.

I am born in Ohio but
the stories of South Carolina already run
like rivers
through my veins.

[From Brown Girl Dreaming 2014]

Copyright © Jacqueline Woodson, all rights reserved.


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