“What are you?”
I am both cursed and blessed,
Feeling so deeply,
I am woman and song,
I am pages of unfinished stories.
“Where are you from?”
I am from a mix of fierce and fragile,
honey and salt,
creation and destruction,
from the earth, sky and ocean.
“Where are you originally from ?”
I am whole but broken.
The fault-lines in my bones,
Blemishes that kiss my skin.
The scars forming constellations on my body.
“But what are your parents?”
They are labor and exploitation in the name of “The American Dream,”
from beautiful lands ravaged by history.
I am the creation of imperialism, orientalism,
hues of colonization in between.
I am colonized but settler.
land of hope and glory
my grandma spoke the language of milk and cardamom
she couldn’t fly but I swear she had wings
the world in her henna dressed palms
rhythm of her heart still sings
hair trimmed with peacock feather wings
my grandma lives through stories
labor of a cinnamon brown woman
she lived without glories
paan leaves and cumin
her children crossed an ocean
threadbare clothes in tow
nowhere to go
her grandchildren water down their names
tongues swollen with apologies
for a land of hope and glory
(ode) to paper matches
women like paper
matches, disposable, used, thrown
but a flame burns bright
—By Nashwa K.