Stepped afoot a plane for the first time,
Lost count of the number of miles it took
To reach the land that seemed so much nearer on the map.
Had a daughter whose birth rooted a lineage in foreign soil.
Packed an entire culture into her suitcase,
Lugged it across the ocean,
Only to have it opened by a daughter who lost her way
In a myriad of alien traditions and customs
That tangled like Christmas lights.
Wondered how she would teach her daughter
Tens of thousands of characters,
When her school teachers had told her everything could be expressed
With twenty six letters.
Gifted her daughter an intricate name worth an essay, and watched it be abandoned
For one that was lighter on the Western tongue.
Mined iron to construct her daughter’s bones,
Her own arms only strong after having to lift up an entire family.
Taught her daughter to fall asleep
To the sounds of bombs and explosions,
Left over from conflicts of the past that she was never really able to escape.
Spun a perfect web for her daughter, using her heartstrings,
Gave up her wings to send her daughter on planes to chase her dreams.
But had to witness her daughter snip the threads of the web,
Wobble precariously on a tightrope,
Juggling recklessly lost dreams that she did not yet realise
Were precious crystals.
Even today, mother’s
Thick accent is caught in her throat,
Tastes bitter in her mouth.
She resorts to broken English
That slices her tongue.
Wishing she could understand the poetry
That spills from her daughter’s veins.
Mother says ‘I love you’
With the lines on her face that she let her daughter pencil in,
With the strands of ivory in her hair that she let her daughter dye.
And her daughter
Later found that, even with an eraser,
Her mother’s wrinkles could not be removed.
Smiles as her mother kisses her goodnight,
But watches her pad away, wishing
Her white hairs wouldn’t glow so brightly
In the darkness.