(Another) Story of Us

Another Indian
or Bangladeshi
or Nepali
or Vietnamese
at a cash register
punching away at another story of us
But not before
heartbreaks and mixed feelings
and remittance slips
pile up
like concrete blocks
for houses
of trust and dreams on show
Not before
strange freedom then confusion
and at last mastery
of the ways of a new land
Not before
bone tiredness
and itches for something still more known
all become like clothes
(the fabric of us)
shall the first word be written

a do-do poem

diaper, changing sheet, wipes
armed with my three-pack
i’m safe

except do-do don’t always work like dat
sometimes it just runs.
its own course
swiftly saturating all white space
super absorbent polymer my ass
flooding elastic gathering yellow
squeezing from sides
pushing past tape
sloshing around baby’s back
streaming down baby’s legs

waterproof changing sheet can put a stop to this
do-do don’t learn how to go through dat yet
but do-do know to make the baby wiggle at the wrong angle
and land where the sheet don’t cover

then wipes alone can’t help

soak baby clothes and bed sheet now now
in hot hot water
tackle this bright, stubborn, staining yellow
bathe naked, screaming, sleepy baby

fresh clothes
fresh sheets
put baby to sleep
change soaking water
wash stained clothes

do-do do know how to direct your day.

Tears of what?

I wrote this ‘poem’ as an assignment for The Writer’s Studio Online. The assignment was to take an object and tell its story.

I put it off for weeks. Then I sat down with my object, so I could get my one point for posting to the discussion. As I wrote the last line and thought of the many things one thinks about when thinking of herself as ‘foreign’, I felt an unexpected urge to cry.

But no one cries in Starbucks. Least of all a black woman wearing a burgundy sweater and a headscarf with all the colors in the world, in this winter of navy, black and brown.


Black dust

Brown flakes

Some once perfect spirals

Now broken from being shuffled around

Then cramped inside

This blue drum with three different blades pointing down the middle


Which of these flakes made way for the perfect point to write 質

To help execute the mild flourish for the thin upper strokes

What dust was shed after erasing and rewriting れ for the fifth time

And still seeing that a sixth would be necessary


Black dust stuck to the blades

Black dust in the corners of the blue drum

Black dust in the crevices of the screws pinning the blades to their white holdings


Is there a perfect pencil to write kanji

Lol, no. But I think you can try No.2


Rows and rows of packs and packs of No.2 pencils

No fewer than 12 in one pack!

One row of sharpeners

Choose quickly before the baby wakes up

Blue because not pink

Three-way because, well it must be better than one-way

Only 100 yen


Black dust

Brown flakes

Metal blades

White holdings

Blue drum

White lid

Holding the errors of a foreign fist