Each state that knew my name

held it in its mouth only moments before spitting it out.

A multitude of times removed from a sense of belonging

that I keep searching for in the well of family history


Three steps down, and six feet under

I find the seeds of what could have been

Planted in soil that died long ago -

So I keep digging

And find nothing but dead ends


I mourn for the roots of mine that died before reaching water

Too much of one thing and too little of another to be considered ‘same’

Learning shame in the darkness of forgetting.


Each state that knew my name

Never knew that it didn’t belong to me, but the bitterness remains

An identity washed clean of heritage in stolen water

I’ll keep searching, but the roots will stop with me


Ashley Kleczka’s “Well” represents the poet’s longing for a connection with their grandfather who passed away before they could know him. Having been raised in a nomadic lifestyle and with the knowledge that the surname they carried wasn’t of any relation (due to familial complications) - it left the poet feeling like their heritage was stolen from them despite how hard their grandfather fought to make the journey from Veracruz to California.

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