Poem: Placeholder for Home

Placeholder for Home

I am brown skin beautiful
full dark hair
mothering roundness
ambiguously ethnic
and this place we live
snowed in
so they come to me
waiting for the bus
riding the train
passing on the street
they come
brown-skinned hands ready to embrace
eyes asking if I am
what they are

Native Hawai’ians ask
if I’m from Hawai’i
folks from India ask
if I too am Indian
I get a familiar nod
from Indigenous people
strangers try to speak Farsi to me
or Spanish
or Brazilian Portuguese

always I must shake my head
I am not the song they yearn for
my skin has not seen the same sun
my feet does not carry the dust of their roads
the colonizer’s language lies heavy on my tongue
they look for
a piece of their homeland in my face
disappointed each time I cannot be
a placeholder for home

An earlier version of this piece appeared in the anthology Sparrow’s Trill: Writers respond to the Charleston Shooting, which was published by Minerva Rising Press in 2015.

Click here to read this poem on Steemit.

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