My mother tells me that I was born outside of the eye of a hurricane,
where the storm is strong and moves in radials;
a series of low-pressure systems and winds that carry bayous.

My ninth birthday was suspended in the space between cyclone and silence.
I watched my city build itself up again after Hurricane Ike and
I think we were both having growing pains.

I’ve learned that my purpose is flooding.
I want to form inundations of words and earn
the title of a Category Four. Drought reliever and filler of bayou banks.

Hurricanes bring heat energy from the tropics
the way I would like to bring light to the city that taught me
how to hold rainwater in the form of letters.
///

I only came into my skin
after I grew into this city and both happened like storm clouds;
rolling in and all at once.

Brown is my favorite color,
I can finally see the whirlpools that rest in my skin and in flood water.
And I’ve learned to love the greens hidden in browns hidden in labyrinths of color.

I find impressions of myself in silt.
There are maps of this city pressed into my hands
like footsteps on wet ground.
///

My favorite smell is rain falling on concrete
like cumin pouring onto my mom’s cooking that she learned from her mother.
I can be a drop of water falling in multiple places.

I am sewn to the city I’ve learned to call my own
like humidity on a body that can finally
hold its own storm.

By Fareena Arefeen, Houston Youth Poet Laureate, 11th grade

Click the media player above to listen to the poem read on Sunny 99.1KPFT 90.1, and KTRU 96.1 by Fareena Arefeen, Houston Youth Poet Laureate. The background music is “Hurricanes” by Jose Manuel Gonzalez Nunez. Freemusicarchive.org. Produced by Susan Phillips.

Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, KPFT 90.1, Sunny 99.1, and KTRU 96.1.

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