Ode to Exile
The bag over my head kept me from seeing the sky’s pink architecture. The beautyof the celestial dome does not transcend sight. After my arrest, I left my country, the onewhose rivers I bathed in as a child, the one that gave me my primary education, my primaldreams. And in the new country, I was free to watch the sky. Except this skywas different, this sky didn’t glow like a pink orb, this sky underwhelmed me.I didn’t love this sky. I didn’t love this country, though everyone told me to be grateful.So I shut up. I grew up. This tale is not about gratitude. This tale is not about assimilation.This tale is about omissions, exits, how I escaped the pitiable doubleness of that narrative,moved to another country, then another, and in each I saw a sky that didn’t match the one I usedto have. Physics says that light pollution keeps the cells in our eyes from truly witnessingthe heavens. In my journey, I forgot about clarity or smog. I forgot about comparisons,or philosophies, or revolutions, or regimes. Instead, I watched the kites scar the trees,the ducks swim across the depthless lake. Every city reminded me of another city.Oh, I was lonely. I spoke nine dead languages. I spoke then I shouted until they answered.The cities, the suburbs, the plains. I said to any living thing: I’ve arrived. I’m here. Are you listening?
Copyright © 2019 by Sally Wen Mao
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
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