My Diaspora Poem (Remix), or All I Know is This

By: Aroog Khaliq

I hate diaspora poetry
as much as the next
fed-up immigrant

All that bullshit
about “lives stained
with honey and turmeric”
and “the colonizer
cutting my tongue with
aluminum shears”
is utterly boring

But there is truth to 
the pain that comes from
racism and xenophobia
and the distance between
the people that are supposedly
your people,
whatever the fuck that means

All I know is this:

My father came here
and he sat hunched before
a computer for hours,
doing whatever it is
a database architect does,
and trying to deflect the racism
that loomed above his cubicle
and bloomed in the sky
after 9/11--
the day after his
second child was born

My mother came here
and at first she was so lonely,
with only my soft-skulled,
baby self for company,
that she cried herself to sleep
each night for two years,
wondering how her brain,
full of silvery, delicate
Urdu couplets,
was going to learn
flat, counterintuitive
and how her baby
was going to hold onto
a culture green and gold
in a land of red and blue
and always, always

All I know is this:

My father is here,
a citizen now,
running a business he
breathed life into,
sitting hunched over a
doing whatever it is a 
database architect does,
clocking in fifty, sixty hours
a week into the secret time clock
in my head,
and thinking
about what life will be like
when January 20th comes
and goes, and telling himself
that he has been through worse,
in Pakistan,
and in the States

My mother is here,
a citizen now,
her slip-on beige niqab
on a hook by the coat closet,
her black abaya hanging within,
her four children all in school,
all raised by her love,
her sweat, her tears,
and she holds her thinning
black braid between her fingers,
thinking of all that this country
has taken from her,
and all that is has given,
and she wonders whether
the fear she feels on every
September eleventh,
the fear that keeps her from
leaving the house at all,
will soon bloom into
a fear that stains each day,
and she wonders how
she will tell her children
to be safe
without exposing her own

All I know is this:

I am a woman
made of fear and pain and loss
and Urdu couplets and steaming rice
and knockoff Burberry scarves-cum-hijabs
and Beyoncé songs on vinyl
and snickerdoodles

I am afraid,
I cling to hope,
I cling to righteous anger,
I take this silver tongue,
I take these golden words,
I write into existence
my manifesto—
This too, shall pass

In my mind, 
I lie in a field of mustard greens
on a charpoy under the stars,
and I let myself think
about every place I feel
at home
and I pray for 
those sacred grounds
to remain Hallowed

All I know is this:
My diaspora poem is
written widdershins,
in a language locked
with a key lodged deep
in my eternal being

My diaspora poem is
about fear and the future
fear of the future,
that insidious, elusive

My diaspora poem is
an ode to my parents
and the rocks they
had hewn by hand
for me,
my kith,
my kin

My diaspora poem is
for the hijabis out there
that are tired of saying 
they are feminist and 
they are Muslim
to people on both sides
of that ugly

My diaspora poem is
a love letter from me
to you, with all 
my best wishes
concentrated into