By | 31 October 2021

The languages buried deep in my tongue do not know
the taste of home, has tried to replicate tahanan
in English, auf Deutsch, bil Araby, en Français.
Gingembre in every city has helped me swallow
enough keys to doors my belly has learned to make room for.
I have been travelling since I was seven. I sniff for directions
nach Zuhause. I learned yasmeen is sampaguita,
but only one of them is steeped in hot water, the other,
bought from tiny hands and hung on rearview mirrors.
Four thousand miles whence, my hands have tried to build a house
on sand where my toes recognize the feeling of bayti.
I distract myself with growing. In every garden, luya, ginger,
Ingwer, zanjibil, the rough and spice of it, the root
abundant and everywhere. I trust the magic of the earth
will bloom flowers: common or precious or je ne sais quoi.
Above me, the birds in flight are singing a different song while
I have memorized the lyrics for this constant plucking and uprooting.
I am honeyed throat and ambered lip, I am sweet enough for birdsong.
But I will tell you plainly, I am tired. I am lost. Please help me
make sense of this — the salt of my skin longing for origin,
hopes for clouds, for less horizon, less gravity, else feathers.
Dear birds, tell me, what to do when the ocean cuts itself in half
again, the seabed trail beckoning me to walk between
saltwater walls. Dear birds, I envy the knowledge
your wings bear, knowing how to leave,
when to come back and where.

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