Heritage

by Sarah O. Oso

My father gestures when he speaks –
the deep lines in his hands remind me
of palm tree trunks, grooved and dark
under a red djembe sun. In Nigeria
where we come from, he says,

each of our names is an heirloom.
We wear our beginnings
like round brass beads.

He drapes me in birthright, origin.
The pride of his cassava
and newspaper kites. Faith,
passed from his own father,
the worth of shined shoes,
early rising, a clean oven.

He holds out for me
whole days of his story
in their loud, heavy colors.
I tie them around my head,
my ankles, walk around in them.