Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

A Refugee Comes Home and Wonders How She Got There

Academic journal article Women's Studies Quarterly

A Refugee Comes Home and Wonders How She Got There

Article excerpt

The way home we seek is that condition of mans being at home in the world.

-Ralph Ellison

I've arrived in this country before; in this very century,

maudlin cashier girls and ticket agents

minister to my physical body,

my need for clothes and toothpaste and a mailing address.

The miracle of walking home in the evening

to my assortment of things-a photograph

fallen behind a mirror, a minor constellation of notebooks,

a packet of flour that I've neglected,

now a bacchanalia of moths that my roommate

informs me originate from northern Europe

and have learned to consume the clothes that I can't afford,

the grain that I now can't use

and yet, it's a stroke of luck, really-as you know-to have this little corner

of the earth: the traffic lights burst into my bedroom

like an overexcited child

before resuming its triumphant departure into the world,

the long, lapis exhalation of autumn

in the floorboards and the windowpanes, obscured by half-flowered buds

and sparrows,

the used-up rag floating in the kitchen sink-

each proof that god was on our side all those years ago.

That I've been elected with a key

and a bedroom window-

with my own life that I can take into the city tomorrow

and station in the public library for hours,

writing apology letters to Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

because I regularly abandon

my craft, as in later tonight, when I will go out dancing

in Brooklyn, and will be drunk and happy. …

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