Jasmine Cui

WHEN THEY TELL ME TO IMAGINE THE AMERICAN DREAM I

 

Imagine father slaking thirst with sweet

sap of Changde river, puddled in mud

 

caked fingers like mottled fish.

Hands cupped, asking

 

the ground to give.

Mother in discount slacks, sighing, thrusting

 

dollar store mop as men kneel half-wasted

on grease slicked tiles, praying

 

wretched prayers that radiate like tooth

ache into spit shine porcelain.

 

Bathroom stall is confessional &

Chinese takeout is church & cousin

 

the deacon, kissing sweat

stained elbows knowing

 

her job is to sanctify.

Embassy is MGM Grand

 

& aunt is casino star, well versed

in the rules of “immigration roulette,”

 

betting away years for promise of green

card. My lips struggling

 

to pronounce the word “English,” purling together

flesh bleeding into flesh. Mouth reduced to nothing

 

more than phantom limb.

A wet “shaaaaah,” all I can muster

is the hollow hiss of rain.

 

Jasmine Cui is 17 years old and is majoring in Political Science, Economics, and Violin Performance 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. Her work can be found at The Shallow Ends, Glass: a Journal of Poetry and www.jasminecui.com. 

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