To My Ancestors
To My Ancestors,
Down the street around the cul-de-sac are the purple flowers that are shaped like snap-dragons except somehow prettier. I do not think they grew when you were here.
In the summer I am a browning leaf. I hear my bones crack and crumble underneath the smooth white soles of feet too pretty to stand next to mine.
do you still love me?
I lead mother down the road to the flowers growing wild in undeclared territory. They are almost as pretty as you, she tells me. In the fall I harvest their seeds. I imagine you would do the same if you were here.
I wish God did not color inside the lines. Because now I have to bathe in hydrogen peroxide to get the filth off. Water is only for the privileged. In my dreams, I am chanting, I am not fair but I am lovely.
do you love me still?
I have to share the overbaked land with the insatiable bees. They still want that last batch of nectar left from those sad, late bloomers of flowers. Natural selection must have missed them in its last round of weeding. My fists are not big enough to hold all my crop. And my back? It outlines an arch: a crescent moon helping me push the crumbling seeds into the soil of the backyard. Perhaps you too were helping me.
I no longer respond to Hola. Hello just rolls off my tongue so much easier. Maybe now everyone will forget what I really am.
still do you love me?
In summer, the flowers have bloomed; I do not have to walk on the hot asphalt to see them anymore. Next year, they cover the entire neighborhood hillside. The wind must have spread the seeds with complete disregard for city boundaries. I know you too did not care for marginalization.
I think I have forgotten how to roll my r’s. I guess it is a good thing I do not have any use for them anymore. My skin has not started to change yet, though.
you do still love me?
When the wild flowers blossom again, I notice white splotches of mildew covering their leaves. They are not pretty anymore.
Madre tells me my skin is beautiful. I want to hear her tell me, You are beautiful like a latte. But all she can truly say is, Eres como un café con leche. Te amo.
I tell mother, I do not want them anymore. She helps me weed them out, but their tuberous roots grow deeper than we can dig. Each summer, I still see the remnants of those flowers: unwelcome. immigrants. untamed.
Can you even hear me?
Anishka Duggal is an American poet born to Canadian immigrants. Currently, she lives between Vancouver, BC, and Seattle, WA. Her work has appeared in Cirque Journal.
Cover Photo by Insects Unlocked (Flickr)
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