In honor of the lives lost crossing the Mexican Border and Canal
Who is the immigrant?
You or I?
Asleep between the wings
of day and night
This bird caught in flight
keeps singing her song
though no one traps her wings
I heard her lyric braided into the
barbed wire around the hollow stems
along the canal at dawn where I saw
the shimmering flowers
clothed in jeans and tee-shirts
shaming the constellation
“Take me to myself!” they cried
“I have no mother to birth me here!
Take me to where the sun rises in my manhood!
To where the moon fashions my lover’s eyes!
Take off my soaked collar, my shoes
Take my backpack and banished suitcase
I left for tomorrow!
What need have I for sorrow on this journey?
What need have I for dreams or love songs?
Light passes between each echo
but this river of stones will not deny the
border between my hand and yours
between life and death
“Love is the only branch to which I cling
What need have I for breath?”
Copyright 2012 by Genny Lim
Genny Lim’s award-winning play Paper Angels, was the first Asian American play featured on PBS’s American Playhouse in 1985, and was performed in China, Canada and throughout the U.S. She is the author of three poetry collections, Child of War and Winter Place, Paper Gods and Rebels and co-author of the American Book Award winning, Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, re-published in a new and expanded edition in 2014. She has performed in World international poetry festivals and collaborated with jazz legends Max Roach, Herbie Lewis, Fred Ho and Bay Area’s John Santos, Jon Jang and Anthony Brown.