Be Grounded

You will be involved one day,
in the relaxed cadence of conversation
when suddenly that meek voice
that always challenged your tongue’s
authenticity is quiet. It will be clear
to you unexpectedly that you escaped
your rustic phonetic norms and values:
you won admission to a non-exclusive
club at the expense of your birthright.
And you will realize no one was waiting
for you or looking forward to you embracing
their traditions in Brahman elocution,
their methods of framing the world,
their vanguard of knowledge.
Your presence was always expected,
not required. Your acceptance—token.
And when the brogue of your rearing
breaks through in moments of emotive
speech, they will look at you
with amusement or disdain,
asking only where you’re from
or why you’re here. And when
you blush with disgrace,
feeling somehow beneath them,
and apologize for those you left
fanning the original voice of your
self-nature, those you admire
will not care. They will know
you have hidden your place
with its minor caste of caricatures,
which sets you apart from them.
It is only a strong grounding
and rooted clarity, unabashed,
that no one can challenge. Don’t hide.
When your light is shining
and you feel obliged to change,
tell yourself: "This is who I am."
A secure foundation will cure
around you. The cardinal will sing
its two-part melody: cheer, cheer.

Free Verse

Anthony Clemons's picture

Anthony Clemons is an Appalachian writer and poet. By day, he is a training manager for a large contracting company and previously taught a college instruction seminar for incoming professors working within DoD. He holds an A.S. from Marion Military Institute, a B.S. from Judson College, an M.A. and Ed.M. from Columbia University, and an M.F.A. in Nonfiction Writing from Goucher College. He is taking a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology at Northern Illinois University. His words appear in Harvard Review, Hippocampus Magazine, Northern Appalachia Review, Silver Rose Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in Kenticky with his amazing wife and daughter and a couple of cats. You can follow him on Twitter and IG @anthonycclemons.

Last updated October 29, 2022