My thoughts on Immigration

I’ve decided to post what I call my immigrant poem here. It was first published in the Cortland Review and subsequently in my poetry chapbook, Her Skin, Phyllothin.  Given the political climate of our country, I thought my readers might enjoy it.

Poetry is meant to be heard, so please listen to me read it here: http://www.cortlandreview.com/issue/59/noronha.php

Here is the text.

Forty Years Later: What I know

Let me say this about immigrants

who burrow through the earth

to swim in rivers whose names they lisp,

Mississippi, Missouri—so many esses, hisses, misses,

the Grand Canyon they fly over with paper wings.

I love the way they step off a plane or boat into a silky twilight

towing belongings—prayer beads, bamboo flutes, jute bags—

scraps of this and that, passports and photographs,

leaving behind scorched chimneys, banana leaves,

monkeys hanging by their feet from trees.

But here is what they do not say—

We will never be whole again.

We cannot, in truth, uproot.

We will grow fins, wings, scales, tails, water-colored third eyes.

We will use our arms as legs, heels as fists, bellies and backs as floats.

We will fill our mouths with ash.

We will chill our teeth

drink the acrid wine of separation

and sleep through occasions—birth, death, days between—

for this one chance to awaken

grateful, still surprised.

 

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