Self Portrait as Hurricane Season by Fareena Arefee Houston Youth Poet Laureate
I’ve heard that heat and atmospheric pressure on the African coast
can cause the start of a hurricane in the Atlantic and maybe
a working immigrant in Toronto can be the origin of a poet in Houston.
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.
On my thirteenth birthday, I watched the bayou
pour into this dizzy space city like a push of blood to the lungs.
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.
On my seventeenth birthday, the clouds obscured light rays
the way I want to leave dents in my city
that can be filled with the words to warp into new kinds of spectrums.
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.