Daughter of

Melissa Ali

My name is Child
I am the great-granddaughter of Celestina,
Miss Celeste
Who was a survivor and an epic matriarch
Obeah woman blood
Mamá refused to be the white men’s collateral damage
Having to continue to work for her rapist, she gave her baby his last name
Always referring to him as “Dat white Bastard”
Her fingers spoon fed me castor oil
Her accent thick only knowing Spanish and Spanglish
But what she did best was cursed as the soles of her slippers
That she threw across the room and upside your head with accuracy
She taught me to mind my own damn business

My name is Little Girl
I am the granddaughter of Esmeralda Victoria
Miss Essie
Who was a survivor and a bad-ass matriarch
Blood stained hands
A Garvey-ite
Third world, poor, with eight children
There was nothing she couldn’t do
Cook, bake, sew, garden, crochet, hustle
Mother to everyone in need of love for 102 years
But what she did best was feed the souls of the hungry
She taught me that family is not made of blood alone

My name is Missy
I am the daughter of Ida Celestina
Mrs. Porter
Auntie Ida
She is a survivor and compassionate matriarch
The blood of Panama, Black Nurses, Black Power, and white distain
Violated, battered, and hopeless
She rose like a phoenix from the ashes
Like her mother before her, opened her heart and doors to all
But what she does best is inspire others, and laugh
She taught me how to feel authenticity.

My name is Melissa
I am niece, cousin, sistah, community daughter, and auntie
Auntie Missy
Melissa Ann
We are survivors and family
Some blood some not
Cooking, eating, drinking, laughing
Consoling, crying, cussin, and caring
All woven into the tapestry that is one
Ride or Die, bring a gun to a knife fight
But what we do best is be present for one another
They taught me how to love and accept the people you call family

My name is also Sister Ali
I am the daughter of revolutionary matriarchs
Harriet Tubman
Ida B, Wells
Toni Morrison
Dr. Francis Crest Welsing
We are survivors and kindred spirits
Blood in blood out
Fighting, writing, living, and breathing for the betterment of our people
Heavy hearted, laborious, and traumatizing work
God’s warriors, working from the soul
Ripping off the bandages so we can heal
But what we do best is live in the truth
They taught me one voice, one action, one heart can become a movement

My name is Melissa Ali


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Bridge the Distance: An Oral History of COVID-19 in Poems Copyright © 2021 by Melissa Ali is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book