We learn dual languages: one for home and one for “out there”
and we take our strange scents to school
and they pinch their noses: What’s that?
we like jeans, rock music, movies, and slang
and we are scolded for peculiar haircuts and behavior
and they grab us and ask: who are you?
What do we owe each other?
Because your father and the Korean War
treated you mercilessly
you swallowed the hate, anger and resentment
with tiny grains of rice and near-clear broth
You read books and taught yourself
math – the universal language
you patched holes in your shoes and clothes
sewed extra material to your pant legs
With marriage and children, hunger multiplied
your craving for recognition and love
were bottomless pits of self-doubt
and utter darkness
You lashed out and your fears
masqueraded as control and power
launched your family away
but your heart cried
“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
The final line of his poem, “On Clothes” by Kahlil Gibran
I take one every morning
sometimes they go down easy and
sometimes they’re hard to swallow
but poems are my vitamins
I ran across this poem and it spoke to my heart:
When we slid out of the lane. When my sleeve caught fire. While we fought in the snow. While the oncologist spoke. Before the oil spilled. Before your retina bled. Beyond the kids at the curb. Beyond the turn to the forest. After the forest turned to ashes. After you escorted my mother out. As I led your father in. As the dolphin swam the derelict canal. While the cameras filmed it dying. While the blackout continued. When the plane dipped. When the bank closed. While the water. While the water. And we drank it.
“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”
From Kahlil Gibran’s “On Death”