• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 07
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Our country

does not have a flag
an anthem, a national sport,

or anniversary coinage,
no wars were fought in its name,

and soldiers do not patrol

its uneasy borders. Ours is a country
where the citizens have,

almond-colored elbows, dark brown hair
falling in wisps, a country where

all the countrymen have identical
mocha-colored eyes,

and the hesitation of émigrés,

even our shoulders angle the same way,

we turn ashen when others
address us –

we speak in garbled, fragmented speech,
like there are things unresolved in our throats;

old words twist
and turn at the tip of our tongues,

my mother tongue holds back your words,
bilingual children speak
later, so the adage goes,


Our country

but you are fluent in the language of milk
and skin, of curls tucked away behind ears,
moist, reddening cheeks, and warm sponge baths

ours is a language of quiet lullabies
and drool thickening in the corner of your lips,
and slow, heavy days that turn into
long, cool nights,

months that turn into years, till the walls
begin to seem too narrow,

my country granted you citizenship
from the moment of conception,

it asked for no paperwork, or application fee,

and yet, I feel it is growing much too small for you;

you rebel against the government of sorrow, the administration
of loss: I have lost nothing, I fear nothing, you say,

this was the country, that saved you,
protected you, gave you medallions for everything:

for learning to walk, talk, sing and dream;

I walled it out so I could wall you in,

but your skin has changed, the old language has dried –

you dissolve the government and yet,
no anarchy breaks loose, no one takes to the streets
burning effigies or staging a bloodless coup.

Instead, I quietly remove our country from the map,

And the citizenry forgets this historical erasure,

but in the hips of mothers, the maps of the old country
remain unchanged, in their songs, the hopes

Of the old country, ring sharp.