by laurel c.
with lyrics from Lorde
pretty soon i’ll be getting on my first plane / my family spent our first nights in the states sleeping / on
the ground of an airport / four suitcases splitting / at the seams / every child whose wings were clipped / by the state / who remembers their face / pressed against the glass / watching a new country from above / i’ll see the veins of my city like they do in space / some nights i still see my grandmother / i dream i’m home and not / haunting this place i’ve landed
being an illegal immigrant brings shame to the family more than divorce / out of pride we don’t say a word / i’ll give you my best side, tell you all my best lies / i learn love as a practice of lying / by omission / i learn i am the loneliest of frauds / i am stuck in a country that loves me lonely / let’s let things come out of the woodwork / it’s not erasure if we choose to be silent / not a sin if this promises our safety / admission a simple sacrifice / we carry we carry / shhhhhhh / i think i’m getting the hang of this
i do my paperwork in somebody else’s car / i blast MELODRAMA out the windows of a car i don’t have a license to drive / i want to scream the truth / sometimes you fall asleep and wake up locked inside a country by mistake / i whisper things the city sings them back to you / do you know what it means to be heartbroken / like this / to have no words for loss in this language / except for song lyrics you see yourself in / songs about a different heartache / still you make them yours / anyway
all this paper / none of it works / all this ink / every bit is stained / ode to the best friends who held our hands / when we first confessed the truth / when we came out twice / i’ve shouted at the government before / pick me up and take me home again / and i meant it / o what a miracle / to still be here / bless the law and the way it fails / me bless the blood / that leaves / the family that stays / bless the loopholes / we might be hollow but we’re brave
they try to tell us all that we will lose / i haven’t really lost a country / only all the things that come
with one / my mother’s good hands / my brother’s mouth curved into a moon / the sound of my grandmother’s smile / place the call, feel it start / once i could call home without crying / but that was a long time ago / i’ll never go home again / do you know what i mean / when i say that / once i could still go back / now it is criminal for me / to stay / to go / to be here / at all
WHITE TEETH TEENS
i’ll let you in on something big / all my life i’ve lived / in secret / legality a cloak i disguise myself beneath / i wear the robe like no one could / nationhood hangs over my head / no matter where i turn /
a country keeping me / from having a homeland / a country shrouding my loved ones / in its shadow /
we wouldn’t be seen dead here in the day / my family fractured and the government collect / calling for the pieces / i break / i bruise / i want to say home and feel it / Lorde / i want to believe you / when you said everything works out so good / did you mean it
laurel c. is a poet, editor, and educator from Taiwan. They are a recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, Pink Door, and the Poetry Incubator, among others. Their work is anthologized in Bettering American Poetry Vol. 3. and published in Black Warrior Review, the Adroit Journal, Hyphen, and elsewhere. They live in Berkeley, CA (Muwekma Ohlone Territory) where they are currently earning their B.A. in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley.