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Dec 2018
growing up, my mother would smile at me and
i’d feel the weight of a world i’ve never known
settle itself around my shoulders, unfamiliar but
warm. i think i’ve been realizing in increments
how different my life has been from hers, in ways
that my parents don't talk about much but that
i’ve pieced bits of together, broken patchwork
in the shape of my mother. a person, emerging
from the dust of the things she has overcome.

she wasn't allowed to go to her father’s
funeral. she was getting her citizenship
figured out and they told her that if she
left the united states she couldn't come
back. my father went in her place, said
her half sister’s son invited him to go to
the ******* when the ceremony was
over. when my father talks about that,
i think it's the most disgust i’ve ever
heard in his voice. is nothing sacred
anymore? and my mother closes her
eyes and sighs. nothing new.

she moved to california when she was in her
twenties, took with her the things she loved and
carved a life in dirt that smelled of the american
dream; opportunity. her relationship with her
family is difficult in a way i don't think i’ll ever be
able to really understand, and despite everything,
she loves her father. despite everything, she misses
the philippines, and the way she talks about it
makes me almost miss it too, a faraway homeland
that was never my home. it’s tangible. she speaks
in that voice that means she is remembering a life
lived millions of years ago and i open my mouth
and taste ocean air on my tongue, hear the bustle
of street vendors calling out words i don't understand,
see my mother in her schoolgirl uniform walking
slowly and squinting sun out of her eyes.

life has thrown her out to the curb more
times than she can probably count, and
you wouldn't know it. she came to america
in hopes of finding a happiness i’m not sure
she's found, and through everything, she is,
unequivocally, the strongest person i know.

and from two worlds away my mother says she
wishes she could put all of the hopes and dreams
she wanted for herself in a box so she could give
them to me. she says, i don't know if you'll ever
understand how much i love you, and i say i love you
too, rolling my eyes like it's no big deal, but what i

really mean to say is,
i think i finally understand.


i would move universes for you.
Written by
Gabi  18/F
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