POETRY October 1, 2021

And The Tide Goes Out

And the Tide Goes Out

history is an ocean
and hurricanes are what happen when history repeats itself
I was born in Zone A of Houston’s hurricane evacuation areas,
Harvey’ed at the intersection of trailer parks and citizenship literacy tests,
Third Coast South,
third culture kid combines Confederate lineage with Caribbean cane sugar slaves’ resilience

history is an ocean of hurricanes repeating itself

lady of the house needs her house cleaned -
hired Consuelo til corona called her away,
hired me to scrub her floors,
hired Florcita to watch the baby til corona called her away, too,
hired me to watch the baby now, too.

yo soy en un huracán, no puedo evacuar
and the tide goes out

my skin always kept me out the field,
always kept me in the house, lady of the house never lets her husband see me, tells me I work so hard, and I
hear the echo of my cousin's new mother-in-law telling her “we used to have a Dominican maid! Do you
know Maria Josefa?”

y el huracán da la vuelta
and the tide comes in

a college degree still put me in lady of the house’s nursery, €13/hr shackling my wrists to the baby's crib,
but at least in this hurricane they’re actually paying us

Dad doesn’t remember his Black nanny’s name
lady of the house’s baby won’t remember mine, either

and the tide goes out
and the hurricanes rise
and the plantation driftwoods down Ku'Damm intact

lady of the house hands me a mop and a red polka dot rag to cover my dreadful locks, deadlocks bilboes
around my ankles while I repeat "You is kind, You is smart, You is important," to the white baby hoisted onto
my shoulders, out of harm’s way

and the tide comes in

Texas-born Afro-Dominican poet/performance artist Arielle Cottingham has toured four continents in five years; notable performance venues include Pop Kultur, 48H Neukölln, the Alley Theatre, MONA, and the Sydney Opera House, where he was crowned Australian National Poetry Slam Champion in 2016. Her work has been published in Stellium Literary Journal, BOOTH, Pressure Gauge Press, and elsewhere; they are the author of Black & Ropy (Pitt Street Poetry, 2017) and Machete Moon (forthcoming, Sundress Publications, 2022).