There are fleeting moments
when I can feel her
calling to me.
I can close my eyes
and smell jasmine,
and the vapors of hot chai
and just a splash of milk.
I can hear the man
calling from his fruit cart
in the morning
as I open my eyes
to the boiling sun
pouring light through the silk curtains
warming my caramel skin.
I also remember walking on the dirty streets
coated with garbage like confetti,
dogs with fleas,
and the little girl,
who tugged at my expensive jeans
as I turned around in anger,
to see her holding a baby,
worried more that she had reached
inside my pockets
than about what she had to say;
But instead, I chose to erase these memories
and cover them up with
the beautiful things
like the smell of sandalwood paste
and the juicy mangos we’d pick from trees,
like drinking ice cold Coke from those glass bottles
and the way my anklets and bangles jingled as I stepped,
like the bright beautiful fabrics that lined each shop
and the bells chiming in the temple,
I chose to remember the smell of jasmine and hot chai,
and the man calling from his fruit cart as I woke up to the boiling sun.
I would only be there for a few fleeting moments,
so I would soak in all these lovely things
before I would find my way home,
smiling when asked about my vacation.
Home was never where I found her,
and when questioned by friends and strangers
I would always decline any connection;
I was an American.
But lately, I’ve been feeling her calling to me,
a mother to her child,
and I cannot deny her existence
because after all,
she is running through my veins;
she is in my brown skin, and my long braid,
and the words that roll off my tongue;
she has raised my parents, and their parents,
and she is the dust of my ancestors.
Though she is broken,
and those memories I used to erase
will overcome the beautiful things,
I pray we meet again soon.