greatest exchange

who was the woman before us, before marriage
before america. 
from the very few blurry photos i've seen,
she looked carefree- almost rebellious
in the most liberating way.
laughing with her friends
i can almost here it
i wonder... what wishes filled her heart?
immigrant life was a price she paid
youth for age
native for visitor
her dreams for her daughters.


color of me

i lived outside
running free
reckless, without bounds playing with
the boys
getting cut, bruised tomboy i was.

it wasn't the roughness she wanted me to avoid
it was the sun.
born with sun-kissed skin
not porcelain white- color of the wealthy and comfortable my umma didn't see beauty in my

darker complexion

she too has sun-kissed skin and
she’s the most beautiful.



it's possible to miss 

someone, whom you've never met.

it's possible to long for them

like you're reminiscing the good days

"one day" milestones i carried

in my soul-

deep in my skin where

no one could take away

your father's kind heart and warm smile

you'd surly possess

image of you is now last night's


fading into  

mere desire and greed 

i miss



we never were. 


korean food

your pungent aroma

fills the room-


burn-your-tongue boiling


spicy, like your


intimidating for some

comfort for others 

for me

it's home. 


broken whole

nothing opens up without

the breaking.

nothing comes alive without

a death

even the flowers know that.

we are breaking

to be open-

to be born again. 


gripping her youth in her hands, in just two bags,

holding onto hope, beyond her fears and loss.

these same hands, time after time,

crafted comfort-

filling our bellies and home with pungent aroma of korea. 

the weight that lived

in her fragile shoulders, 

eyes that tried

to find its sparkle,

smile, an occasional laugh- 

masking the groan within.

before a mother,

a wife, a friend, an immigrant,

she is a woman with a story of her own,

the abandoned, the untold.

a story with unbearable shame and heartache, she'd say. 

yet with unmatched courage, i'd say. 


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