This country is motherless and makes me forget
I am not. Two weeks or more since a call. To be in America,
You must see American, close your eyes and dream American
The nightfield a neon strip of expensive English and rescued women,
You must greed American, clasp your palms and plead American
Distance of prayer: falling dimes in faith, to count the green you’ve got
To bend your knees and beg, bow your head and need American
The flowered parts of me pushed back to soil. To reroute the roots, to earn
A plot in blooded ground— six-feet-deep anything not seed American
Tonight, the neighbours hear me weep, and pull down their blinds,
I pull my lines, I pile my lies, I pale my life to bleed American
I pick up at last, her voice on the other side asking Sanam, Sanam…
A word I once knew the meaning of, before I could only speak American
Sanam Sheriff is a queer poet and artist from Bangalore, India. She has received support from the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, The Watering Hole, Pink Door, and is a Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Virginia Quarterly Review, The Academy of American Poets, The Offing, Vinyl Poetry & Prose, Black Warrior Review, Kweli Journal, Shade Literary Arts, DW B, and elsewhere. Sanam holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis. She believes we can preserve our imaginations by creating them. Poetry is her closest translation.
The featured image is “Clouds and Rainbow, Jamaica” by Frederic Edwin Church (1865), selected and manipulated specifically for Sanam’s poem by our Art Director, Meg Sykes.