In the comment box, a woman scoffs

 
You're not really from here. By which 
she means I can't trace my blood-

line to rows of bodies laying brick
or tending animals, passing like dark 
threads through tufted fields 

of cotton in fields owned by her great-
grandfather; neither can I trace my
ancestry back to the likes of her 

people sitting on their porches, 
surveying their kingdom—thousands 
of acres; cabinets stacked with porcelain;

heavy furniture carved with scrolls
and pineapple flourishes. She's proud 
her people were enlightened and had

the grace to let their slaves go 
to church on Sundays, besides 
allowing them learn to read 

and write. But had my people 
come to work in these parts at that time, 
likely we wouldn't have been good

for anything but hauling
lumber or cutting tobacco 
in the blistering heat;

our grandmothers and aunts,
only for polishing the floors 
and washing the laundry.

When I stand in front 
of my classroom each term,
are these the only things my students 

see? In 1611, in the country of my birth,
the first universty opened its doors
nearly a hundred years before

that famous one in Connecticut. 
I remind myself that In 1887, 
the bilingual poems of a woman 

from a dusty Ilocos town 
went on exhibit in Madrid. I never 
mistake lightening for lightning.

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