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Nov 2021
i said goodbye to the desert
spit out a few grains of rust and sand
as i sat in the back of my mother's grand marquis
i was bidding farewell to the long plaid skirt i wore to school every day
the school that was mercifully unmarred by bullets
the glitter on the popcorn ceiling of my grandparents' home
the smell of an overwhelming saturday evening
which stank of discarded waste and cigarettes
we were going somewhere special
goodbye nuevo laredo

eight years later
i said goodbye again
to a neat little home
nested tightly amongst the bricks of others
a hilly backyard
bluebonnets sashaying on the side of the highway
mexican restaurants every three blocks
that could never replicate what i once had
stars and stripes holding steady in the shade of a sycamore tree
a glittering city in the distance
i was in love
and i was going somewhere special

i was elated to escape
both of my previous lives
always finding myself awash with uncertainty
adrift as i committed and uncommitted to a series of distractions
from the beastly recesses of my pruned little brain
that snarled about hopelessness
a lack of worth
and motivation
maybe i knew i was meant to run
since the moment of implantation

my new neighborhood is impeccably silent at night
no hollers to strain my ears for
no ominous pop-pop-pops
(was that a firework or could it be...)
no jovial music with thundering basses and large round drums
i eat pork drenched in teriyaki sauce
and drink green tea in the evenings
on the train, i gaze at the empty stares of other passengers
my gaze is also unreadable
i practice the strokes of a kanji
one, two, three...
my husband and i meander through temples
heavy and groaning with the weight of a thousand years
of life
benevolent buddhas and Cheshire-grinned demons
i can't help but think of the message of a western God
that my mother recited to me every night in the black of our room
sometimes i shuffle my feet in the square space of my living room
to the tune of cumbia

i used to think that i didn't have an identity
no confinement to a culture conceived by the likes of men
but i am what i am
and i never actually escaped
Roxanne Paola
Written by
Roxanne Paola  japan
   Bogdan Dragos
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