There is No Other Way to Say This

By Saba Keramati
Every morning the sparrows sing Every day there is another funeral
I am a fraud
A mouth is always open: 口 The tongue declares itself: زبان
I have to write this poem in English
I do not speak my mother’s language I do not speak my father’s language
I am not grateful for this country
Mama, I am begging: 帮我 Baba, I am begging: کمک
I move closer to a life without language
I push the skin below my jaw I pluck my eyebrow strays
I hunger for something I’ve yet to taste
Chopsticks rip the duck flesh The blistered tomato splatters
The language burns and sticks
The country burns and burns
I hate saying America
Hearing America
I do not sing America and I do not want to
妈妈, I know all you gave up for this بابا, I know it scares you to hear this
There are too many truths here
These are some of them
Without you there is no us Without you there is no us
I am sorry
I am ungrateful
I am out of metaphors
What do these tanks remind you of Does this new life still ring of prison
Exiled and found your way back to more of the same
A haunting A prediction
I don’t know if there’s a better place for us
What refuge is this
What trickery
A lineage of pain A once-held future
Would I give my existence for it
你的生命 زندگی تو
Like a river takes back its rain
Like a droplet ripples home
Headshot of Saba Keramati

Saba Keramati is a Chinese-Iranian writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds degrees in English and Creative Writing from University of Michigan and UC Davis. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, and appears or is forthcoming in AGNIMichigan Quarterly ReviewPassages North, and other publications. She is the poetry editor at Sundog Lit. She loves peach gummies, baking banana bread, and going for leisurely bike rides.

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