fatimah asghar on vs: "my people"

fatimah asghar’s interview on vs was amazing. i think i’ve written about a few other things she said that stuck with me (but if i haven’t, i will), but the thought for today is related to the way she uses the words “my people.”

first of all, the poem she read, “if they should come for us” is fire and if you’re reading this you should stop and go listen to it. it’s right here. i even timestamped the link for you. ;)

and i can’t remember if this discussion came up before or after she read the poem, but at some point near it she said something along the lines of “‘my people’ is constantly changing group. even in this poem, there are people who other folks might not consider ‘my people,’ but i do consider them my people. in fact, my goal is to make ‘my people’ the biggest group possible.”

that’s a pretty rough paraphrase (and i might actually be blending in something frannie said) but i really do love that idea. by beginning/learning to expand the bounds of who i consider to be “my people,” i’m moving closer to the world i think we are intended to live in. it expands who i can (and must) love, who i am responsible for, and who i am accountable to and vice versa.

anyways, i could go on, but i’ll leave it here for now.

if they should come from us - fatima asghar

these are my people & I find
them on the street & shadow
through any wild all wild
my people my people
a dance of strangers in my blood
the old woman’s sari dissolving to wind
bindi a new moon on her forehead
I claim her my kin & sew
the star of her to my breast
the toddler dangling from stroller
hair a fountain of dandelion seed
at the bakery I claim them too
the sikh uncle at the airport
who apologizes for the pat
down the muslim man who abandons
his car at the traffic light drops
to his knees at the call of the azan
& the muslim man who sips
good whiskey at the start of maghrib
the lone khala at the park
pairing her kurta with crocs
my people my people I can’t be lost
when I see you my compass
is brown & gold & blood
my compass a muslim teenager
snapback & high-tops gracing
the subway platform
mashallah I claim them all
my country is made
in my people’s image
if they come for you they
come for me too in the dead
of winter a flock of
aunties step out on the sand
their dupattas turn to ocean
a colony of uncles grind their palms
& a thousand jasmines bell the air
my people I follow you like constellations
we hear the glass smashing the street
& the nights opening their dark
our names this country’s wood
for the fire my people my people
the long years we’ve survived the long
years yet to come I see you map
my sky the light your lantern long
ahead & I follow I follow

words / writing / post-processing
224w / 10min / 25min