Her head sideways on my arm,
she's about to fall asleep.
My face is so close to hers that my breath
makes her hair ripple like a liquid.
When I begin to kiss her face,
I don't know if I am telling her
that I can't live without her or
telling her goodbye.
Her head doesn't move;
she knows I'm wavering
and doesn't want to tip me
to one side or the other.
They found me in the house with my baby child. They'd already killed my wife in the field. They told me to place the child in the mortar we used to mash cassava. Then they handed me the club and told me to bludgeon my child, or they would kill me. And I did as they said. Afterwards, they cut off both my arms and let me go.
"To many of us educated to believe in classical and liberal and Western democratic values, he exemplified those values almost to the letter. Having written his assessment of democracy in America and having criticized American mistreatment of Indians and black slaves, he later had to deal with French colonial policies in Algeria during the late 1830's and 1840's. The French army of occupation undertook a savage war of pacification against the Algerians. All of a sudden, as one reads him, the very norms with which he had humanely demurred at American malfeasance are suspended for French action. Massacres leave him unmoved. The natives belong to an inferior religion, and must be disciplined. In short, the apparent universalism of his language for America is denied, willfully denied to his own country, even as his country pursues similarly inhumane policies."
Of course, I thought the whole world would change by either decision, that was what my world came to be, that moment. I had no other life, and no other event or thought could stop me from planting those kisses on her.
Did that bring you closer, the physical intimacy?
I guess so. I kept kissing her until she and I fell asleep.
Did you feel safe together, that you had something that was special to the two of you alone?
I don't know what to call it, love or exhaustion, or love by exhaustion.
Did you feel you wanted to be anywhere else?
I couldn't think of anywhere else. I felt that I was here, or there, with her. That's all.
Have you ever seen a picture of her with her husband or children? Is she married with children? Does she have a partner, and they can't afford to show that for political purposes? Ever seen a picture of her with her mom?
But you know, in some cases this kind of context would be useful, to show a human side, the family side.
But it's essential that these people, that they appear alone.
Sure, too many of them with Yale accents now.
That's when the best form of flattery becomes menace.
They just don't want to see dark people in groups.
Yes except in these wide-angle shots of the poor jostling and stretching out their empty bowls, I have heard you say that before. But who's they?
They is all of us.
I made my way through the border and into a refugee camp. Now they want us out of this country and back to our own. I will not return. What I fear is that I will meet the men who made me kill my child. I am afraid of the shame I will feel when I face them.
They don't have a language. They're all body.
There's twirling, cheerleading, tom toms. "Is good money here," I heard this Russian coach say. Opened up a gym in Houston to train cheerleaders, her gold medal in gymnastics inside a big cube of clear acrylic on her desk.
Those girls get up at six to jog. They lift weights, Pilates. They're nuts about the body.
Their hymens rupture from doing the split so often, I hear.
Yeah, but only you people would think that's a big deal. Wouldn't you agree with me there?
I agree. We're nuts about the hymen.
Are you worried about your daughters? Is that what this is all about?
I'm worried about my son too. That he'd become some kind of Abezeid or Veit Dinh or Yoo.
He'd have to decide that for himself.
I'd rather he become a suicide bomber than become that.