This Poem written by Yasmin Belkhyr was inspired by artwork pieces presented in the NYC Scholastic 2013 Art Winner’s Gallery at the Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education.
I’ve always believed that the human body
is a soft thing, but I’ve become more of a fault line
that anything. It took me too long to realize that my entire life
is simply a series of things I’ve left behind.
When my mother was seventeen,
her tongue faltered under the bridges
of English and shook when faced with America,
a country of gold and dreams and lost things.
I blur the edges of my two separate homes;
neither are mine but I claim them anyway.
New York belongs to the homeless,
who have found their souls in the empty spaces
of a city full, teeming over with nothing,
whose belongings are pennies and god and candy
wrappers gathered from the city that wears no alliance,
the city that tears everyone down.
Morocco belongs to the children,
with tan, bare legs and scars across their arms,
who loiter around candy stores
and supermarkets, who pet the stranded,
rabid cats who flit through the garbage cans;
and I have almost forgotten their faces
but they still wander my dreams.
Breathe, my mother says, her tongue
flecked with Arabic tones, the lost affections
of a country she made herself forget;
Breathe, she says, because the ground only breaks
when its inhabitants are empty. I breathe in
and exhale things I meant to say and things
I meant to do, and but maybe my life is actually a series
of the broken things I’ve carried.
Inspired by Daydreaming by Brian Gerste, Self-Portrait by Olivia Hodges and Morning at Bayside by He Li.