taking back language.

I choke on these foreign syllables,

this imposed grammar,

these European letters.


I twist my tongue against my teeth,

and cough up scars into symphonies,

I find old gods in greetings and vocabulary. 


My homeland’s spoken melodies

ring in my marrow, buried echoes

calling out to me. 


I chip away at genealogical traumas 

with ancestral proverbs.

I’ll spend eternity reconstructing my lips,

and turn my mouth into a home.

I belong.

I belong in a body that loves—

that is in love with itself. 

I belong in a body that flows. That moves 

with the twists and turns of life, taking care 

to bend against breaking. 

I belong in a body that is strong and steady. In its determination, 

it understands, it seeks reconciliation. 


I belong in a body that rests. That closes itself, 

so that it may open to a universe of dreams. 

I belong in a body that glows.

I belong in a body that glistens. 

I belong in a body that listens.


My body is infinite possibilities. 

My body thrives, it builds,

it seduces, my body impresses.

My body’s instinct is evolution,

exponential extravagance.


I live in a mind of scars. 

I am full of broken, 


I am the memory of survival, of                  change 



I look 

at myself 

            and follow 

                        the tracks of places run through me, 

of the people 

             who have swallowed me, 

I stretch myself the distance                                             between who I was 

                                                and who I am thought to be. 


I plead for a body that knows.

a body that holds itself without fear or panic i am tired 

of openings and closings, of endings that have no beginnings, of

infinite terrors i am unraveling inside i am unraveling…

V. Saunders is a queer Black educator, poet, and activist from Maryland. While at the University of Maryland, she started The Writer's Bloc out of the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House. In 2019, she received a Master’s degree for her research on the intersections of Blackness, gender and language learning in the African diaspora from the University of Hawaiʻi. In 2016, V. Saunders’s poem “we and the metro” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her creative work can be found in HerStry, The Potomac, District Lit, and more, with more coming in Hawaiʻi Review. Find more about her at thealvearie.com and @nomadblaque on Instagram and Twitter.