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Dear America

In ‘76, my parents’ bewildered arrival.
The grocery stores, all that refrigerated meat.
The houses without basements or shelters

where my mother slept, or did not sleep, while
American bombs called overheard. The dirt flying
up. What hope did my mother have then,

but the life she carried. Her body.
The decay in the ocean. America, look
at my mother’s face, and love her.

My father, too, with his dark hands.
He lived in Virginia, aviator glasses,
a young Marlon Brando. America, his dream.

Who made him love, above all, white faces,
and hate his own, wish his children’s
better futures as white flags? Little sailboats

released into a harbor toward a future that sings
of false equality. America, you ask for our light.
We give it to ourselves, our loves,

our kerosene hearts lamp-lit
for the children to come.

    • Listen: Cathy Linh Che reciting Dear America
Cathy Linh Che

Cathy Linh Che

Cathy Linh Che is the author of Split (Alice James), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize, the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America ...