Friday, February 24, 2012


I spread the butter on the bagel, wondering if it'll even taste good cold.
I don't know, bagels aren't a big part of where I'm from.
I spread my 'pastured' butter, and muse over what 'pastured' means.
I imagine packets of butter somehow feeding on bright green grass in a sunny field.
It's a big deal over here, but I can't for the life of me figure out what the fuck else you'd feed a cow but grass.

I grew up seeing cows, in fields, chomping away;
The farmer would deliver their milk to our door.
Glass bottles, foil tops, washed and used again and again.
I used to love being the first to open a new bottle,
the first to push down the foil top and steal the creamy gold below.

I eat on a table upon which, 'HP' is the only familiar brand in a sea of unfamiliarity,
Brands like 'Lysol', 'Folgers' and '409' are still foreign to me.
I don't think about this stuff for the most part, this is country number seven;
just rinse and repeat, right?

And yet the Atlantic feels like a vast yawning gap, separating me from the rest of the world.
I wonder if my ancestors can hear my prayers here.
Sometimes I imagine them standing at the coast, looking out over tempestuous waters, and trying to figure out where this daughter got to, my prayers a barely perceptible rustling in their ears.

When I walk the dog at night, I make new prayers.
To the ancestors I'm not sure can even hear me, and the wights of the land I now inhabit.
'Look upon me kindly?', I ask.
'Accept my offerings?'
It's desperate, begging almost, the prayer of a recent immigrant in a new land.

Sometimes I stumble in my own language, self-conscious of speech in a way I never was before.
I remember the 'me' that would scream abuse in Portuguese and slam some stalker dude's head into a washbasin.
I remember the 'me' that stood shoulder to shoulder with a gang of French youths against a rival gang across a Pyraneean village square.
The 'me' here is out of step, overly-conscious about her accent, and what it gives away.

Around me, various people make comments about immigrants, some serious, some in jest.
From the 'Go back to where you came from!'s, to the 'There are too many immigrants here'
And then the suffix of 'Of course we don't mean people like *you*!'

Sometimes I feel my relationship evaluated,
That I have to prove I didn't just marry him for a Greencard,
That it really was love,
That I'd never had any plans to move to the States
That I wasn't one of the imagined masses of outsiders clamouring to get into 'Club America'.

There are girls like that, I'm just not one of them.

I'm the girl that sucked up her fear through all the medical tests to prove I wasn't a dirty, disease-ridden, drug-addled foreign whore.
I'm the girl that had to get naked and have her teeth counted.
I'm the girl that cried most of the plane-ride over here.
I'm the girl that followed her heart.

And I'd do it again, and again, and again.

Because lives can be rebuilt,roots can be regrown.
Friendships can be made, jobs and community found.
And little by little, for all its strangeness, a land can grow on a person;
just like America is doing now.

But only the foolish forget or abandon love.

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