When I was born my room was full already -
my mothers broken things, her childhood.
Cradle littered in loss and lineage
uninhabitable decades before I arrived.
One generation, two generations, three
All our heirlooms
mixed in with the abuse
all up the doorframes, ceilings, railing.
Docent of this museum
I will show you
pushing open the panes
how no air circulates
where I would have slept
had I been able to enter
our house of pain.
I can neither live home, nor leave it alone.
You left me everything.
So many closed fists of fire,
so many burned charred hands
lunging for your back.
You can’t hold on to the scorched earth,
parched and fertile.
Grasping the past
you risk never
It feels like holding my breath under water. You open your lips to speak and slowly begin to drown. English a viscous, transparent liquid.
Why bother. It’s easier not to try. It’s easier not to eat, not to breathe, not to be the first-born immigrant daughter.
A silence, a pain. A sustained, learned shame. Trained by ridicule not to speak unless I knew I'd be understood. And I was rarely understood. Inhaling to interject. My own fists prying open a jaw reaching down a frozen chest. At that point, why bother. It’s easier not to try.
It’s easier. It’s easier until it’s not and you’ve left your voice behind, a mother tongue in a mother land no ones been to, no one that matters. It’s easier it’s easier until it doesn’t know how to open any more. A voice became a box, a box lays empty and doesn’t know itself. It became so easy. Nothing to bother to try anymore.
You learned to speak for other people, realer more corporeal people, who’s stories aren’t heard but catch echos of your own, a quiet sustained resonance. But they need their own voices and you need yours. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. It doesn’t need to be perfect, or even good, just yours.
Go on, tell your own story. Exhale.
Two hands float on a warm emerald water. A jade ring. A far away land. A long, awaited arrival that never comes. In China a son waits for his father who never comes home. In Russia a father waits for his son who never returns. In Kazakhstan a mother leaves her daughter. In California a child disowns his parents. Generations of abrupt severances succeed one another across land after land after land. In some place, at some time, we are all still together. Inside eachother's bodies protectively like nesting dolls, the smallest bodies shielded from the assault of the world by the others. In some place, we will be together again, decomposing into the earth which is not of the land we were born of but into the land where will we now always remain.
Three generations of holding, holding breath leaping into the unknown, waiting and waiting decades for solid ground. Yet solid ground never materializes under the feet of my lineage. We never exhale. Our bodies start to decompose under the pressure.
I am a refugee, my father is a refugee, my mother is a refugee, and her mother and her father are refugees. We never arrive, we never exhale. A stiffness that precludes a felt life, that precludes the resilience of warm flexibility. A rigid fear, a tight jaw silencing a voice that might betray one to the church, to the state.
I was born with the urgency that I might be the first, and the last, one resourced enough to unwork generations worth of unprocessed pain. I would carry the heavy weight in my own body until then. Dragging the unliberated bodies of my parents and grandparents with every step forward.
To be one people who left one place one time one generation.
Not two people, running three generations and never arriving
to be anybody
Holding my breath under water
my lips part, against the american pressure.
What consumes me threatens
to drown me as well.
this tired mafia intrigue
don’t wear off easier
than the shock value
of my diaspora
go find your own peoples
then laugh and cry at your own struggles