Image courtesy of Marc LeMaire
Humans have always been a species on the move. Early in our history, our bodies adapted to give us an edge over other animals, developing an upright stance and long limbs. Now we could see what lie ahead and move toward it. If water became scarce in one area, for example, we simply moved until we found another area where water was plentiful. And, our large brains adapted with us. Then when we learned how, we adapted the world around us. Now when we needed water, we could build dams. We could plant crops when we needed food. As a species, our success was beyond precedence. One might think then, with our highly developed brains and ability to solve problems, humans would eventually remain settled. We would be able to choose a homeland and stay there, perfectly adapting ourselves to our surroundings and vice versa. Not so.
According to the United Nations, as of 2013, 232 million people were living abroad from their places of origin, up from 175 million in 2000 and 154 million in 1990. Now more than ever, human beings are a race of migrants. The forces that compel us to move range from the luxury of choice to the necessity of survival, from seeking new jobs to fleeing war and poverty. We leave behind friends and family, language and culture, and sometimes material possessions and sometimes entire homes. Depending on the circumstances, sometimes we have months to prepare, sometimes barely enough time to pack. Whatever our reasons for leaving, as migrants we carry with us a longing: for connection, for community, for a sense of belonging. Perhaps this is what we all have in common, this longing, no matter where we come from or where we are going.
The five adoptee writers featured in this special migration-themed issue of Gazillion Voices carry with them differing relationships with the idea of home. I am thrilled to present their work in concert with the writings of non-adopted authors on the same theme. Through this literary conversation, I hope we will all come away with a deeper understanding of how movement and longing for connection underscore all of our stories, whether our homes exist somewhere far away or right where we are sitting.
~ Katie Hae Leo
Middle Secrets by Lisa Brimmer
begins and ends
to know her
what she can
in black books
middling father . . . (continue reading)
March 9, 2013 by Chava Gabrielle
Smell weed from window by bus stop.
74 on time.
Next stop, kid who used to live in my neighborhood.
Sits next to me.
Get off downtown.
Man asks for cigarette.
I have none.
New man asks for money…. (continue reading)
She Was by Shannon Gibney
She was. She wasn’t. She will never be.
She lay in the antiseptic, clear bassinet in the clear, antiseptic hospital room I was trying so hard to avoid. I have always hated hospitals – their overwrought professionals, pink and blue hallways, a hand sanitizer around every corner. Yes, I never thought I would find myself crouching in the weight of her coming, death already come and gone. Pushing her out, her heart finished, no longer beating, my right foot crunched into the top handle of the toilet handle, two doctors with plastic glovesand I am so sorry, but that is all faces guiding her out of me… (continue reading)
Like Water by IBé
Carry on bag
From shore to shore
Too heavy for this cargo.
15 years from good bye
Before memory leaves me
I’d need these shoes to walk back to my father.
He gave them to me;
At the airport
Before walking 10 miles barefoot to his six feet under.
When I got the phone call
All I had was this handkerchief my sister made me.
She pricked her fingers a thousand times
To stitch her name across the bottom.
I just want to keep that promise… (continue reading)
My Bold and Beautiful Voltron Epic by Satish Jayaraj
I couldn’t have been older than eight. My mother, brother, and I were on summer vacation in Bombay in my grand-parents apartment, and my aunt and two cousins had just flown in. We were all splayed around the bedroom- on the bed and mattresses on the floor. I, (being the baby of the family, a title that time shows I will never live down), was in the centre of the bed as that was spatially economical. Our usual hour to two of unscheduled catching up had already occurred and the lights had been turned off… (continue reading)
American Salp’uri (살풀이) by Hei Kyong Kim
“Our healing heals our ancestors”
Sometimes I dance when I’m alone, close my eyes
and lose myself in the music; Nina Simone, Erykah
Badu, Salp’uri. My body sways without thought,
talks without filter. It has its own voice—
sometimes sweet and sleepy, other times thrashing
with the clashing cymbals, the bara… (continue reading)
Leaving by Eva Song Margolis
I am in a constant state of leaving
of not fully being
inside, an endless migration of emotion tunnels;
spare me from wrestling with
sorrow, anger, tenderness… (continue reading)
Three Letters by Eric Sharp
1. On the occasion of receiving a correspondence from Mrs. Park
I received a letter from your brother. I regret to inform you… that I am still very tired. As you know, I am very over working. But I think it is important for you to have your fraternity. Here is the translation of the letter:
During your first family meeting, he says you want to see the photos from when you were a baby. But Billy, this was a long time ago. It was when you were babies! Your hyung’s apartu is very small. This is normal for Koreans. He does not have room for pictures of babies. Neverthemore, he says your mother has picture of both brothers when you were the baby.
Actually, I regret translating this letter… (continue reading)
You Can Not Make Us Pure, excerpts from a work in progress memoir by Sun Yung Shin
Korea expelled us: un-digestible children. Its dark, unnamable matter.
This book is an exorcism. Not having any other, I must be my own shaman, my own oracle, my own seer, and enact my own catharsis. I need not kill my king-father and marry my queen-mother, nor gouge out my eyes to see. I will not birth my own sisters and brothers.
A purge? The opposite or the same as hunger? Instead of purging the impurities, I must conjure some other alchemy. Some other kind of magic, some reckoning with this chorus of ghosts… (continue reading)
my grey tion by Chaun Webster (continue reading)