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A poem of identity

By Prairie JohnsonPublished 7 months ago 2 min read
Photo by Sandip Karangiya on Unsplash

I know normal like windowpanes now steam.

As in, my dreams will cleanse the world, and we

will one day breathe clean air. The reconning

of my inner storm will undeniably transform

myself and everyone that I touch.

This is my normal. But my identity

is a force that craves more and unfurls and curls

toward the light; my twelve-year-old eyes

could not find common ground around other forms

of normalcy. I am

the I-grew-up-poor-with-semi-absent-single-

mom-in-the-Midwest normal.


the I-have-seen-more-than-half-of-the-US-and-

more-and-I-talk-like-an-academic-when-I-need-to normal.


the I-have-savings-from-working-smart-and-

hard normal.


the I-am-a-POC-but mixed-and-thus-fragile-

but-my-skin-is-of-gilded-bronze-fire-retardant normal.


the my-mother-comes-from-white-money-from-




the I-ate-books-with-my-eyes-because-I-felt-empty-


or-pain-like-a-brother normal.

I have lived many kinds of normal,

But the one most have not lives inside of me

Still, forever my secret treasure.

I found a radical community like me:

in boondocks full of burdock

and muck boots and hoop-houses.

I know that even though I also lived

some kinds of normal

that others understand, no hand can

fathom the soil I have touched

and how it has touched me forever.

I was fourteen when this place

became a normal to me,

and I added it happily to my collection

of identities as an abnormal person

with semi-comprehensible stories.

Do not despair, Prairie! I thought sarcastically.

People do not have to relate to you

to love you, to know you.

But the truth is much lonelier

than I could have foreseen.

I feel like a tourist in this urban life.

“What’s an eco-village?” everyone asks.

I don’t want to explain my life.

The truth is more complicated than

even my mouth can articulate.

Community. But not blood family.

But chosen. But unexpendable, but

Home and rustic and comfortably,

Consensually uncomfortable.

But I came from a normal

understandable to most. So why

Did this village feel so right?

How do I explain that Prairie Johnson

chose an abnormal normal?

What is normal about that?

How could I begin to convey that I willingly rejected

A culture designed to give me everything?

How do I say that it gave me an identity

as an unconventional child? But how else

would I have emerged from the tunnel of

mainstream America? Who else would I become

but the sum of skepticism and curiosity,

a torrential questioner of why?

My unschooled roots gave me tools

to unspool every truth, unravel every rule,

examine every pool of supposed normal.

I don't know where I fit in because

my understanding of myself is too expansive

to be contained in words. I am anything but


social commentarysad poetry

About the Creator

Prairie Johnson

If we are going to transform the world, we must begin with ourselves. I write what is inside of me so that you might find what is inside of you.

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