US Embassy

This is Trump’s regime
A neocolonialist bureau in a
Post-colonial city
The grey building with its well-manicured grass
Has its guards stand tall with
Cartoon moustaches that are
Anything but funny

They make you feel so small
First they spit orders into your face to
Empty yourself bare
You feel like a child who
Ate her homework
And stumbled into the headmistress’ office with a bad stomachache

Then they make you stand in silence
Even as you try to make conversation with the
Equally nervous person behind you who’s
Going to visit their daughter for the first time in 3 years or the
Hopeful student who just got into this university in Iowa or
That one in Arkansas

“Sir how old were you when you left Tehran”
“My parents are sponsoring me”
“Husband is in Philippines, ma’am”
“Virtual key accounts manager”
“Housewife”
“Sir it’s a one number question can you just answer me straight”
“Until I was eighteen ma’am”

Accents
Interrogated by some voice on TV with no soul
And we were not allowed to look, our knees
Trembling like we were waiting in line at the
Site of an execution
After all capital punishment is still a thing in
Free America

“NYU?”
“History major”
“Your visa is approved ma’am”
Such ease in my privilege I thought I moved worlds and
Tried to keep my relief in check because there were still many
Before me and after

All these words rehearsed in nervous minds and robotic ones
The white people at the counters had nuclear missiles to blow our hopes dry
And turn our hearts into a giant
Wasteland that was once
An American dream

I wanted to punch Uncle Sam and scream
I hate America
Or burn down a McDonald’s while
Showing my middle finger to Trump
But I kept silent with my head down
And as I walked out I saw a woman in a burqa
And I have never been aware of
Privilege as such

 

Artwork by Yeo Tze Yang, “I Could Live in Hope”, 2015

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