As people continue to come together around the world for Black lives, anti-racism and justice, Deep Water stands in solidarity. In this week’s poem, young poet Laurel E. Sojourner speaks rousingly of her evolution as an activist. And next week, Deep Water welcomes a guest editor, Portland poet Samaa Abdurraqib, to share a poem with us for this time of reflection and action.

Laurel is a sophomore at Harpswell Coastal Academy. “My First Voice” is forthcoming in the Telling Room anthology “See Beyond,” which will be in bookstores on July 1.

 

My First Voice

By Laurel E. Sojourner

 

The first time I screamed as a baby was a monumental step.

It was me saying, “I am here,

and you cannot ignore me.”

My mother taught me to keep screaming until it became a yell,

and that yell became a beacon,

a beacon that says, “There is injustice here;

help me fight it.”

Learning to fight doesn’t happen in the moment.

It takes time.

But there is always a moment when you realize

you could fight somebody and win.

I’ve had that moment,

that moment when I started to realize I could win,

standing in the middle of a crowd so thick I couldn’t move.

Looking back, I think I felt freer than I ever had before.

Since then I’ve been stuck in more crowds,

shouted louder than I ever have,

discovered more reasons to yell and make my presence known.

Since then I’ve sung anthems with my sisters and brothers,

laid on the cold snowy ground like they did so effortlessly.

I’ve screamed in the most silent way, just like they did.

But why show up?

Does my one small voice really matter?

Is it making a difference?

Why are we even here?

No, I, I know why.

 

We are here to protest because we love something.

I am here to protest because I love something.

 

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “My First Voice,” copyright 2020 by Laurel E. Sojourner, is forthcoming in “See Beyond,” published by the Telling Room. It appears by permission of the author.


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