Keep holding me like this
and help me untie my birth language
my first language
steeped in bruises, knotted up in a child’s still body
petrified with fear
words thrown at me
alcoholic bodies raging into me
embedded like ceramic shards
all around my little heart
me, so small and already convinced
my home felt like captivity . . . .
My son is late. A few nurses have passed by my room since he called this morning, and a little while ago a shady white apron holding a folder and a pen stood still as I opened my eyes: another one of those modern healers, levitating at the edge of my sheet, checking off boxes on a piece of paper, assessing charts and tonsils before sending me back home . . .
And he, Larry, could see for a moment Molly’s Diner where he’d eaten the last time they’d turned him out of 54 Division with his jacket and wallet on its rigged up chain and no laces in his runners so he’d had to curl his toes into bird’s claws to keep his shoes from dropping off his feet as he walked while holding the left side of his body gingerly, a little impacted at the waist, so breathing had been a little easier if he kept to shallow breaths and looked up out of one eye to see which way was Molly’s . . .
At the beginning of spring, our family visits the cemetery.
“Qing Ming is the time when Chinese families pay their respects to the ancestors in the spirit world,” Mama explains.
When we arrive at the graveyard, my cousin Calvin and I dash ahead of the grown-ups . . .