float

by Kay Moua

Term

Summer 2019

File type

Spoken Word Poem

Where are you from?
No,
where are you really from?
I know they are waiting to hear about some exotic, foreign and far away place
So that they can sip their daily dose of racism and smirk at our discomfort
As they remind us that we
Do not belong
When people have the audacity to ask this question
When people have the audacity to tell people to go back to where they came from
When people have the audacity to write legislation
To deny asylum seekers, put children in cages, deport human beings, seperate families
I wonder if they also have the ability to have the same depth of
courage, love, and grit
to bear the truth of where we come from
I am from
Genocide
Centuries of war and persecution
Centuries of people trying to kill people who look like me
Centuries of gun barrels being the only thing willing to look at us
I am from
Suffocating and drugging new born babies
To please shut up
To please swallow their fears
Until they can no longer make a noise
So that we might be able to hang onto that 1% chance that we might survive
I am from
Burying limp bodies
Of our babies, our grandparents, our neighbors
But never having enough time to properly mourn them
Of never having a chance to say good bye
Of burying my own limp body
In my wildest dreams
Because being dead was better than being hunted like animals

Being dead was better
than being Hmoob
I am from
Bodies
So many bodies
Floating down the bloody Mekong River
Our arms frantically reaching out into the dark waters
Trying to hold onto each other
Trying to hold onto hope
Trying to hold onto
Anything
In order to survive
But when you reach out and finally wrap your hands around something
All you can feel is the cold body of someone who didn’t make it
Floating away
The iciness reminding you
You have no choice but to survive
Survive
If my ancestors knew
That survival meant
Living every day and experiencing the hateful eyes of those who want to send us back
To the very places that tried to bury us
I wonder if my ancestors
would have chosen to float away