Here is a single poem that captures so much, is so moving, imagistic. What a good fall we are having at the i am from project!

I Am From

Ly Cooley


I am from Saigon, Vietnam

A city that no longer exists.

I am from my mother’s orphanage

From the lost children of the Vietnam war

Whom live between two identities

Accepted by none.

I’m from the sole tattered photo my mom owns 

Of her dad.

An American soldier, lost to the war.

I am from my mother’s pho cart 

Two years old, and tucked underneath

Shielded from the sweltering sun.

I am from my dad’s Cyclo rides

From his sweat drenched shirt

And the daily struggle to provide.

I’m from chain smoking and skipping meals

And from Sunday night confessions.

I’m from my dad’s daily visits 

To his favorite Pho stand.

I’m from my parent’s hopes

As we await our fate

To come to America.

I’m from clasped hands and prayer beads

From broken English and interviews

From our elation of the news

We are finally approved!

I’m from the plane ride to New York

Three-years-old with curious eyes

A bright future.

I am from never fully grasping

My parent’s sacrifice

Yet always holding it close

Feeling the ripples of their trauma along the way.

I’m from new beginnings and identities

From first-generation college student

From breaking generational curses and therapy

               I am from the pile of books in the corner of the hallway

               Still waiting for their place.

               I am from medicated oil, and a hot bowl of Pho

               My mom’s miracle cure all.

               I am from yesterday’s prayer and tomorrow’s hopes.

I am from the accumulation of all of our dreams.

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