What is a flag?
A piece of paper tucked into your wallet?
A strip of fabric that hangs proudly on your wall?
The front dash of your car?
Or is it the kind of fabric that you’ve never
Before and for a lifetime
Didn’t even recognize
My flag is one that I’ve never owned
Not until I bought one for 10 dollars
On the street
From a woman who could’ve been my grandmother
My fumbling Spanglish the only proof
Of my heritage
When I got out the station
I saw so many people
In red blue white
With hair like mine but not mine
Skin like mine but not mine
Spanish like mine but not mine
And as their eyes glazed past me
I’m one of you
Can you see it?
From passing floats
The bursts of merengue and dembow sang to me
To wrap the red blue white around my shoulders
Feel its weight for the first time
And I grabbed onto each end like a girl
Who doesn’t know what to do with her hands
And then I danced.
And suddenly these people
With their hair like mine and not mine
Skin like mine and not mine
Spanish like mine and not mine
Were my people
I didn’t realize I had people.
And my people are beautiful.
They’re so fucking beautiful
And I’m so fucking devastated
That I never knew
They didn’t tell me
What this flag tied me to
Who this flag tied me to
That I had a claim to this flag at all
And I fall
And it catches me
Rooting me to a homeland
I’m beginning to call home