Bittersweet, a graphic poem included in the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's 2017 Asian American Literature Festival.
This poem is a reflection on the life and breath of culture as a non-static and living being. The complexity of being of a place and not from it. The love and mystery involved with loving your culture in all its complexity.
Sometimes something sweet can be bitter.
If your roots lie in
mystery and transit,
learning your story is way finding in reverse.
Reminders of contracts.
Promises of opportunity and home.
Ships cut the ocean
Like the cutlass strikes the cane
Sweetness was my ancestors' purpose.
New oceans crossed.
This time soft,
like the fall of a sari.
Or with the strength of the knot of a sulu.
Still, a bitterness remains.
We question our truth.
Our culture(s). Our homeland(s).
Sugar with saccharine glue for the gaps we did not create.
But we hold together, just the same.
A privilege to be critical.
To know that we share roots and recipes.
We hold these oceans and they hold us back.
Our own simple syrup.
Your roots run deep.
Your strength builds homes.
Your blood builds fortunes.
New skies, same sun.
The Cheeni Chronicles: Bittersweet