Poetry: The Link Race Issue

Graphic Jenn Aedy

I was, I am, I will be
By Ke Xin Li

I was a spirit shoved inside a body,
lost inside a home.

I am a wandering spirit
settling in a body
building a home

I will be a spirit
a body
a home

Graphic Jenn Aedy

Be I a Lily or a Rose
By Rhonda Chung

I belong to this earth.
I’m tethered to this ground.
I’ve grown an impressive network of roots here, but you won’t let me grow—you don’t let me thrive.
You keep trying to cut off my roots with: Where are you from?

Despite my seeds having been sewn here, your question tells me that I do not belong.
How can a plant not belong to the soil that it was grown in?
Be I a lily or a rose, or a hybrid not often seen in your garden,
It’s not the hue of the petals that binds one to the soil.

I grew from your earth.
I am your product.
Your environment raised me.
When I tilled the land locomoting towards my wants and needs,
When I searched for nutrients to foster my development,
When I found other photosynthesizing friends,
I flourished.
The soil that I had cultivated allowed me to bloom.
If I cannot yield fruit nor flower, it is because the soil you provided me with was barren.
Because I am nothing if not persistent.

Yet, you will say that I am not your product.
You will insist on knowing my provenance, despite you living on unceded ground.
You will demand a taxonomic rank of my genus.
Despite knowing that:
Blades of grass don’t grow yards away from each other,
They cluster together,
Because they thrive best as a group;
You will single me out.

Dangerous adults
By Ke Xin Li

I shattered from the pressure of gravity, jagged edges of a bottle pouring one last drink. Liquid confidence for the lowest of self esteems. Locked inside a lavender room, they told me I was a danger to myself and others. A child that never knew safety is an adult who must learn how to be safe. To repair yourself from a lineage of broken mothers is to unlearn toxic intimacy.

How do you be soft when you were raised to have tough skin?
How do you process your feelings when you were never allowed to cry?
How do you understand yourself when home was a place your parents escaped so you were destined to runaway?