Tuesday, October 27, 2009

They knew what they feared (or they feared what they knew)

They came to eat.
They compensated.

They came to cry.
They stubbed their toes.

They came to sing.
They plucked violin strings
and chipped their nails.

They blew kisses,
some stuck fingers
down their throats.

They forgot to call,
stayed awake all night
with charcoal on their clothes.

They came to speak--
metaphors beat
them over their brains.
Cliches crashed into their thoughts
and hung what's left
on the wings of airplanes.

They came to prove
something or everything.
Eventually nothing?
Some lost their dreams
and watched
ice cream melt
under their desk lamps--
dripping into pools
around their pencils.

"And what about art?"
They asked over and over.


They came to scream
their names
and the lack of stars hurt
their windows. But
they forgot how stars
are still there,
even when unseen.
A silence became
their darkness
or lightness
or that tiny space between
where pain gropes
at their groins.

They came to become real
but all that's left is
the soap scum on the tiles
of a soiled bathroom.


They came. Can there be forgiveness?

They came to be
To be.

And they came to learn a language
unknown to their tongues.

They came to contort their existence
and they stepped out
from the shadows
to be pushed behind
the bathroom stalls
where used tampons rest
on the toilet paper rolls.

They came because
they know the stench.

And maybe they left because
a certain amount of human empathy
is needed and
never felt
never seen
never opened up.


But it's now closed.

The book
is closed
the door,
the mind,
the fingers on their hands
are closed.

They came to transform
their foreign thoughts
into native words and,
quite understandably,
they left because
no one listened.

For my international students at Pratt, especially to the one who didn't give herself enough credit and I'm sorry for all the pressure and pain she felt, whatever it was deep down.


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