Saturday Poem

Interview with a Birangona

—8. After the war was over, what did you do? Did you go back home?

I stood in the dark
doorway. Twilight. My grandfather’s

handprint raw across my face. Byadob,
he called me: trouble-

How could you let them
touch you? he asked, the pomade just

coaxed into his thin hair
a familiar shadow of scent

between us even as he turned
away. Don’t come

back, he said I walked past his
turned-away back. Past fresh-plucked

lychees brimming
yellow baskets. Past Mother

on the doorstep sifting through rice flour,
refusing or told not

to look up, though the new
president has wrapped me in our new

flag: a red sun rising
across a green field. You

saved our country, he said. I said
nothing. The dark rope

of Mother’s shaking arm was what
I last saw before I walked away.

No. No. Not since.

by Tarfia Faizullah
from Seam
(Southern Illinois Press, 2014)