When I first went to India, I wrote a piece concerning drowning and being drowned in a culture that was not my own:
“Each of her parents had gone their own way. Her mother had walked out of an icy, damp land, hair blowing in the wind – Ireland, the place she mentioned with longing sighs and wistful glances out the door. Her father had stood tall on the decks of ships way out across the Caribbean, traversing the dangers of South America, a land that had chiseled him down and made him a man.
So it was only natural that, after they’d all been together on the plains of Africa, that she would dive off the deep end and drown herself in the madness of India.
The drop into India was longer than she expected. She fell silently, her eyes open and her arms outstretched, until she crashed into the water with a mighty SPLASH, where it tore at her clothes, ripping out her hair. She sank swiftly and silently, shooting down by her skeletons of dreams and tattered kelpy thoughts, sinking deeper and deeper into darker and darker waters.
She came up for air in Agra, where she found a sort of life raft named Andy which carried her along for a while so that she could wipe her hair out of her eyes and catch her breath. All the water she’d swallowed stayed down, and he told her that she should keep it there because it would keep her alive.”
Now I am melting, falling into this wasteland that says I belong,
I am overcome with memories and confusion
this constant reminder of You Do Not Understand,
You Do Not Belong
even though I look and speak like a native
I have perfected this chameleon act, blending
speaking this language to communicate a modicum of thought.
– And yet, it is never enough.
I am exhausted of getting everything wrong, failing
in work friendship conversation class assignment meeting
I truly just want to get back to a language I can speak fluently,
speaking the truth into every ear, bold in faith
knowing that I am wholly loved and that I love wholly.
Let me fight this current, hold down this fiery water that burns my lungs
offensive, grating, I will breathe it
and swim to summer shores
then from there learn how to breathe air again.