This is where I come from


This is where I come from
Nokyoung Xayasane

Are you Japanese?
Are you half white?

What’s your background?
I have a degree in health science
and professional writing.
No, what’s your background?
Where do your parents come from?

My parents
they come from a place
rooted in joy and loss
where the streets flowed
with water and blood
the air is alive with laughter
and the full-throated groan
of hope dying.

My parents
they come from a place
where bombs fell
and flowers bloomed
screams ripped through the night
and the sigh of breezes
entered an open window
the sound of a thousand
feet running for cover,
the sound of a thousand
hands clapping for peace.

My parents
they come from a place
of astounding beauty
as if untouched
a place of
deafening quietness,
modest dwellings
and open fields
of lush green.

My mother
she sold and bought items
on the black market
to feed her family.
She stood behind wrought-iron bars
and escaped into the night
while gunshots rang
clear and hard.

My father
he taught children
in a schoolroom
with a dirt floor
and a dusty blackboard.
He was a boy
who cried too much
who felt too much.
He learned to harden
his heart, to endure.

My mother
she birthed a child
in a nameless place
a place where people
stand in waiting.
My father
held that child
and dreamed of a place
where his family
could breathe,

They dreamed
of a place
where all people
from all walks of life
could reach out
and embrace their neighbour,
a place where people
could reach out
and clasp the hands
of their fellow brothers and sisters.
They dreamed of a place
where love endures
and fear
is nothing
but a distant memory.

That’s where I come from

that expands and is everywhere

that expands and is everywhere

The Morning After
Nokyoung Xayasane

The light holds here
                        through the silken drapes
            hanging on your walls
            that separate
our murmured voices
from the outside world
I hold this memory
           like a   grain     of sand
                        encapsulated in time
                                    on the brink of            
            through the overturned hourglass
The white sheets
                      still hold the brilliance
            of the night
Our laughter
                        effortlessly weaving
            a pattern on the ceiling
                        an open window
                                    letting in the evening air
Your books                on the mantel
                       ease me into
            the hollow
of your neck
the curve of my spine
           the small
                      of your back
Scattered        on the floor
                                 my blouse
                                            your jacket
Coming together
                                in the hours before
          filtered light enters
through curtained glass
that expands and is everywhere
           the warmth of the sun
                                    on silken drapes.

(September 2010)