(Written for NYPS)
It is human nature to align the unknown with the pre-known,
To put everything into comforting categories,
set clearly defined boundaries
to clearly defined spaces
within clearly defined boxes
–all based on relevance to the matter at hand –
whether being called out on the street,
or by every relative you greet,
or an angry ink stained marksheet,
your real personality becomes discreet.
But I object, to being reduced to a single object, because,
I am more than just a woman, a body, a pass certificate, a number, or a not-so-glowing CV, there are other things to use, if you want to objectify me.
I am sharp pieces of coral from a Thai lagoon, crystals from the heart of the mountains, twigs from the Redwood forests, twisted seashells from an isolated beach, feathers from pillow fights and migratory flights, and the brochures from every single aquarium I’ve been to.
My substance is in a Ziploc bag full of the powdery sand from a southern coastline, and a cable car ticket bought with coins from a country I don’t live in anymore.
These are the objects that define me; that I cling to, and collect, from the places I’ve been, and the people I’ve met.
I’m a bit like a refrigerator door, covered in magnets from every visit, travel, experience and more – and just like the soul of the fridge is the food within, my objects have spirit too, just beneath their skin
In the warmth of a scarf crocheted by my mother, sixteen years ago for a Minnesotan winter.
My very first formal blazer, which my younger sister wears now, because these arms never stopped getting longer and longer and clothing can’t cover these wrists anymore.
Just like the wires that once shaped my grin-
Who I am is VERY visible in
The DVD of my sixth grade school play, where I spoke with a quivering voice, accented, confused about which better to say:
“Vande Mataram, or ‘God bless the USA’
For growth, all you need see, is the scraps of paper I saved from grade three-idyllic nature poems I wrote, about crunchy leaves on a forest floor, from long ago, back before – I discovered that poetry could be so much more.
So rather than demanding ‘relevant’ information,
That doesn’t really matter, to objectify me
Take, instead my box of metaphors, assortment of things
I don’t mind being identified
As seashells and souvenirs and butterfly wings.
To being reduced to just a single object,
Because objectively speaking, I am all of these, and all of me is relevant, and I am an Aristotelian being
-With both matter that forms me and and a form that matters,
With your leering eyes or interview questionnaire
Cannot take that
Away from me.