Exile and Refuge
As an immigrant woman, an academic of diaspora studies, a white "other" in a sea of American whiteness, I navigate the layers of difference that are always contextual, never fixed, at times a deficit, at times an abundance, a surplus. These poems manifest this quality of translation, which is both my curse and my lens through which I observe and make sense of the world.
For all the places I have lived in
Is a referent exile
The outline of a straight line from rough to clear unknown to progress
Is the fantasy that gives meaning to my now
For every place that has met me is one
I have packed away from In the cadence of my sadness
Is the pattern of exile and refuge
For every idiom grasped, every face read, every attempt at conquering my visitors status
Is the fierce stubborn wish not to partake
In the life of others In the life like others.
In the cadence of my sadness is the resolute wish not to be- long
Not to be-loved
To observe from the fringes
To be able to choose
To pack away from.
But memory is disingenuous negative space spilling out of the straight outline makes another exile possible.
My life a map of global terrorist attacks,
Reminding you of what and who you left when you left.
The cosmopolitan girl of the thousand adieus
Patches loyalties to places and times of passage,
In the cadence of my sadness is the secret of my life
Like no other.