[My brown body is inherited]

My brown body is inherited

          along with its jeweled head split

on a curb, blood lingering

          on pavement. It is the red

birthmark of a nation.

          I can’t stop clawing at my mother’s scar,

incessant legacy carved

          into my flesh like initials in oak.

The body threads violence to itself,

          welting wounds into offspring.

I discover the ache

          but not the why or how of it.

My body remembers history

          even when my brain is muddled,

as if one leg is shorter

          than the other, a hobble

reminding me

          this body’s belonged

to others before me.

          It will see the same open casket

bear the same brown bruised face,

          twisted mouth open as if to say

it remembers resistance.


New Jersey native Ysabel Y. Gonzalez, is also known for her performance poetry under the alias Ancestral Poetisa. She received her BA from Rutgers University, an MFA in Poetry from Drew University and works for the Poetry Program at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Ysabel has received invitations to attend VONA, Tin House, Ashbery Home School and BOAAT Press workshops. She is a CantoMundo Fellow, and is also the Program Director for the BOAAT Writing Retreat. Ysabel has been published in Vinyl; It was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop; IMANIMAN: Poets Reflect on Transformative & Transgressive Borders Through Gloria Anzaldúa's Work; If You Can Hear This: Poems in Protest of an American Inauguration; Wide Shore, Waxwing Literary Journal, and others. You can read more of her work at www.ysabelgonzalez.com.