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Kenji C. Liu reads and untitled poem written by Rocío Carlos.


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My name is Kenji Liu and I'm reading from The Other House which is a book by Rocío Carlos, an LA poet.  The reason why I love this poem is because it reverses kind of the traditional narrative of a immigration story by telling the story of somebody who's crossing the southern border but going backwards in time. 

the tape rolling backward/ a daughter in reverse
east instead of west, south instead of north
I squatted over a spider's nest in the sand
I pretended to sleep at the checkpoints
a dog hid under my legs
and we drove over unfinished roads
I sat up and looked out at the dark,
the darknesses under riverless bridges
I was delivered at night to my mother's mother's house
(who was pregnant with me even as she knitted together a
mother for me)
in reverse, my tongue reaching for memory of a language I
learned first
so dark-skinned and from the north, as if the north should
bleach me
do you really speak english, my cousins asked
we wore white eyelet and chased each other in the cotton fields:

                                     it was communion season/it was may.