A Kind of Ritual
After Albert Abonado
I know the language of my mother’s grief:
unfurled sheets, a door swinging wide,
onions left bleeding in the sink.
Each, a kind of signal fire
swollen sick with emotion.
Each, a sorrow she reduces
to gesture. Has no words for,
shrinks small as if to say
this tongue is not mine
Immigration taught her this:
your identity is a second skin —
it is usually convenient
to kill yourself. Shedding,
is as easy as speaking English.
Nightly, the pillows grow heavy with ghosts.
So many selves have yielded here
wrung thin like tripwires.
The body count rising as she struggles
with pronunciation —
cannot bear this language
that sounds like thrashing, that rinses her gums
into clean indents, into the imperfect tense —
which is to say that this has happened
before and this will happen again.
By Jasmine Cui
Jasmine Cui is 18 years old and is majoring in Political Science, Economics, and Chemistry at SUNY Geneseo. She aspires to be like her parents who are first-generation Americans that fought an extraordinary battle for their place in this country. She is the founder and co-Editor in Chief of The Ellis Review.