Here by Joseph Mills

Where are you from?mixed family

my children are asked

not because of how they talk,

or how they look, but how

we look with one another,

this unfamiliar form of family

we have put together,

and when they answer, Here,

North Carolina, the South,

they’re not believed.

Africa, a classmate says,

Your parents adopted you

from there.


my daughter explains,

I was born in Charlotte.

The girl continues to insist,

No.  Somewhere in Africa.


My daughter comes home,

where she’s lived all her life,

where she recognizes everyone

on both sides of the street,

where she intimately knows

each tree in a three block radius,

and she recounts the discussion.

We all agree it’s puzzling

and wonder how to respond.

We ask if there’s something

she wants us to do.  Perhaps

talk to the teacher or parents.

Yes, she says, there is something

she wants.  Maybe, before dinner,

we could put on some music,

and dance together, here,

in our house, our family,

such as it is, such as we are.


  Enter the Queen with her hair about her ears Author PicA faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills holds an endowed chair, the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities. He has published four collections of poetry with Press 53. His fifth collection, This Miraculous Turning, will be released in September 2014. More information is available on his website and on his blog.

Germ Magazine guest author
… is a contributing guest author for Germ, which means the following criteria (and then some) have been met: possessor of a fresh, original voice; creator of fresh, original content; genius storyteller; superlative speller; fantastic dancer; expert joke teller; handy with a toolbox; brilliant at parties; loves us as much as we love them.



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