from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference, March 2018
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I write across the borders of memory, the barriers of my mother tongue
Borders are the empty space between our arms reaching for a hug that we fill
with hopeful hearts
My story crosses the border of your ears in snaky lines
Untethered to borders, my pen writes free
No matter the borders, we are one.
The border is a line a bird can't see
The border smells like desert, river, sea
The border is as heavy as a wet sock
The border does not understand the language of wind
or the power of a thousand dissenting voices
the border simply is
because we believe it to be
what we were once told--that we belonged on this side--
but what is sides? What is anything but the sun?
I write beyond the barrier, beyond memory,
Take my hand.
The barrier is the email my student sent me
A run on sentence
Can't come to class no child care child is sick i'm falling behind
The last email I see
finally affirms the bright bird still flies
and we can change the sky
and the rivers have small strawberries growing
on the shore, and the words that
are harvested do not die after all
against all the foretold expectations
My words bump into walls they scurry, take cover into corners. I don't
remember the birth of my fear.
My student carries her passport in her bookbag now, just in case.
Tell me, professor, she says, sitting across from me, tell me
it will be okay.
The border listens all day. That night, the border has a dream. In the border's dream it has turned into a bridge, and bunches of green shoots sprout from its feet.
Body as border. Eggshell. Liminal meniscus. A decision. A parrot says everything is going to be alright. Epidermal walls. A deepness falling through. Culpability.
I am a bird in the empty air. There are no lines of yours and mine. There is only now, and the shadow of your wings, merging with mine.
I've heard the stories
anyone of us can be taken back
to a place we've never been
or state of matters that anyone have never discovered
You are all beautiful. The borders you see are a lie. Open your eyes and see the truth.
The sparrow sees no boarders soaring over Sinai sand, no burning bush, no lines of demarcation above the rusted tanks and bombed out homes where Bedoin goats graze.
If there was no fear,
if there was no ignorance
there would be no reason
for these things we call
We are all the same
we are all related
we are all
a border, like our skin,
is a permeable edge
that still edges out those
who won't take tools to pry
through those edges, to
know they've got to come back
over a hundred times, sometimes,
to get through.
Borders are bridges that connect your ears to my mouth
Be present in body to this present body
El muro, nuestro muro, will build a bigger house
a greater one, like a person,
so be a wall, a transparent one,
"every wall is a door,"
at the edge of your poem
throw yourself in the right direction and someone WILL catch you
be they light or dustpan,
Stock photo: A seamstress
with her machine sewing a border
onto colorful orange cloth, alterations