After reading this book, I thought again about what PERSEVERE could mean.
Rethinking Persevere is a Word
Persevere is a long word:
four hundred years long,
the distance of the Middle Passage,
the length of a ship’s hold, packed with bodies chained together.
And although persevere
contains none of the letters that spell luck,
privilege shines through from beginning to end.
The privilege of tracing a blood line
for generation after unbroken generation
in an ancestral story of ascension
rather than a lineage that dead-ends
in the shackles of slavery,
in lives with trauma encoded in the DNA,
in the knowledge that one’s existence
is not predicated on bootstraps
or an innocuous insistence to try again
or the blithe assertion to summon grit
but instead dependent on ancestors who persevered
surviving horrors unimaginably severe
family members inhumanely severed from each other
per their owners’ whim.
Persevere is a light word for some,
a chirpy motivational poster word.
For others it is a heavy word,
a how-dare-you-assume word,
©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021