“See? We did something for someone else’s good!”
Her kindness tasted like the smoke of a charred house,
something left behind to rise in the wake of tragedy. I count
the grey hairs that slithered on her head as she bent down
and told me why she left China.
“My husband wanted something different.”
I wondered if English cut her tongue the first time she spoke it,
or if she held it to her chest and inhaled the novelty as if it were
a newborn. Language can be a leech that feeds on the memory-blood
of your ancestors. Language can overfill your life with yesterdays.
Language can make you forget your real name, how to perform your
people’s magick, which foot leads, and which foot follows.
I say, “My mother did, too.” I don’t say that when my father
left us, she stayed and bore us here to do something for someone
else’s good. I don’t say she’s homeless. I don’t say it wasn’t