Initially drafted in a torn magazine during my flight home from Morocco, I wrote a poem inspired by a culture separate from our time. It’s a nation that often stands only to be seen from the corner of our eyes upon a map of the world. Others should also observe the wisdom of this remarkable African country. I saw a different me through their eyes and it stretched my views. It was chance, which stood between their lives and mine. My trip to Morocco had consummated in me joining all my possible identities into one, and I saw my reflection in the face of the people in this familiar land.
A tired city,
A bold country
sits patiently upon the edge of time,
exhausted by the fumes of starvation. Yet surviving,
Its heart beats below scorched feet. Thumping.
The noise resonates as heat rises from the dirt. Burning.
Their history scrawled out on the rays that part
the dust, casting shadows under their glossy hazel, brown, dark eyes—
So deep, they draw you in, and
Drown you, until you cannot see the end of their sadness. Poverty,
So blinding with cruelty that sands cut
by the sun’s silver nails, glisten like gold.
A language, spoken like a prayer,
You suffocate in their words and gestures.
I gasp for air in the fiery sky.
The pain of despair, indulgence all around
echo even in my sleep. They cry out in a plea
first loudly, a piercing whisper
then softly, strangling. Suddenly,
Utter, deathlike numbness
in the chalky, night sky,
mending their wounds.
I touched the memory with bony, feverish fingertips
and only realized I dreamt a myth.
In desperate silence
extending my hand to them as they do to me,
we reach for the golden wings of freedom.
–Jenny S.W. Lee (2003)