The New American
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.
She needs you to hold her and lift her up
You, the new American, the new woman, the new breed of scholar
Spaced out, branched out, disrespectful of ancestral rhythms, connecting the dots.
Appreciating gerunds, mixing upscale with modal scales.
Tattooing the other half of your life on your shame.
You grew up within restrains, hoping that you will not be surprised by others. You have lived across places stuck within uprooted roots.
She ran faster than you.
She knew better.
You lost her in the crowd; you looked out for her, then you gave up
You lost the trust in the process of your becoming, and staked sticky notes as unfathomed borders –
She lost you and began to wonder, with her needs chronic, her language white noise, her addiction to warm flesh and thick orange blood.
She brushed herself along the thick walls of the foreignness of this country,
While you were busy justifying your moves, cutting little wounds, just enough to moan and linger ambition and gravity made you heavy and lonely.
She looked out for you
You looked back, told yourself you will hold her one day.
Your embraces were taken, your breaths were busy rustling upon other bodies
She screamed at you.
Too loud you thought. How uncivilized! what a poor imitation of an immigrant privilege you have turned into.
She raised her hand, got rid of her dolls, you kissed him, and then another.
She warned you, cried out your name, licked your wounds across the glaze.
My soul is intact,
I have not lost anything, just wasted little pockets of time.
Baby. Darling. Sweets. Love. Precious.
How can you bear this middle ground, the mediocrity of your failed attempt at being whole– while she is screaming for you?
She is as eager as you are, just more voracious and brave.
You think you can quiet her down, but there is no new American without a new you, and wholeness needs a huge jump
– if you leave her behind you won’t make it to the other shore!
You land on the ground, unscathed; you land a great job, lucky.
You work your way into the new world, crawling into safety.
You find yourself.
And love finds you, but before anything else, you find her.
This time for good.
You both here to stay.