Go Back

(Something a little different today. I don’t write poetry a lot, so feel free to be highly critical.)

You told me to go back home
And I want to say I’m pretty sure that’s where I am
This is the only one I’ve ever known.
I want to say I’m comfortable here, I can navigate it with my eyes closed,
Know where the turn is in the stairs, know where the chocolate is kept.
I even get mail here,
And who gets mail anymore?
I know this place
But you say go home
so maybe I don’t quite know it as well as I thought.

You told me to go back where I came from
And I know where you mean.
And I want to say trust me I’ve tried,
I would love to,
Love to be able to say that I can go back
to a country where people look like me
but while there might be a ‘going’ there is certainly no ‘back’
to a country that I do not know,
Whose words map routes I cannot use
Where the only letters addressed to me are
“ABC” or “CBC”: American Born, Canadian Born Chinese
depending on where they think my accent is from that day.

But if I can’t go back through place
Maybe I can go back through time
Back to when my family decided to move here
Back to when you decided to let people who looked like us come in
(but only the right ones)
Back to when you said no, no more of them
back when you rounded us all up
(but we can’t talk about that)
Back when you wanted us to build your roads for you
And burn your mountains for you

So I’m telling you I went
Back down paths I didn’t know existed
Through stories I was never told
And now I am backed into the corner
of place, and time
of geography, and history
Two halves that don’t sum to a whole
(weren’t you the one who told me I’m good at math?).
And I want to say I’m done going back,
I think I’ll stay here
Because what is a house but a joining of corners?
And I’m starting to get comfortable here,
I can navigate it with my eyes half-closed, I am finding the turns in the path,
I even know where some of the chocolates are kept.
So here is where you’re find me,
Here is where you’ll have to meet me,
If you ever want me
to come back.


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