fake [submission]

I feel like a fake

I don’t feel jewish enough

I feel like I want to hurt the people that made my great grandma and great grandpa and great great uncle feel so ashamed and scared

That they forced their children to stop practicing. And they stopped.

And they left behind G-d because they said She had turned Her eyes from them

And I want to cry because when my grandma tried to be jewish her husbands

One after the other

Every failed marriage

They beat her down over and over and over

And when my mom taught me about Passover

Passover

Not Pesach

Passover

Because my goyische father

And his goyische family

And all of the goyim in my life

Made it bad to do anything that wasn’t christianized

And when I wanted to be jewish and I wanted to learn my great grandma took that internalized HATRED and called me

Shiksa Goddess

and she hit me

(a small eight year old with big watery blue eyes and the longest tangle of blonde hair to be found for miles)

(no one on my mothers side has hair like mine)

until I cried the bitter tears that she could never let herself cry

Because she had to be Strong.

And I want to scream and cry and hurt them like they’ve hurt me

And I want to hate my great grandma but

Sarah just did what she had to do

So aptly named

She took life in stride and looked for other solutions and I want to be Sarah but I am not that strong

And I am not strong

I am not strong

And I just want to cry.

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mi ani? ma ani?

like my people, my

thoughts
poems
head
love
history

all are scattered.

and now that my matriarch is dead,

what
where
who

am i?

why did you leave me like this?
i don’t feel ready.

nu, what is it like?

being Jewish is having the breath suddenly ripped from your chest upon remembering the pain and suffering of your people’s past, a memory that rips open the barely-healed scabs of the pain of your people’s present.

being Jewish is to live with wounds our tormentors will not allow to heal.

ahava

from now on, whenever a hebrew or yiddish word bubbles up into my heart, I will not allow myself to suppress it like I shamefully do my tears

I will let my lost languages, mame loshn, the tongues that put me in the skin of my ancestors, I will let those words burst out of my chest like fire

I will let them burn the skin of anyone who shames me for speaking a language i hold on to

languages too heavy for me to carry, the diaspora has made my arms weak but I will not let go.

what does diasporic sorrow feel like?

what does diasporic sorrow feel like?

it feels like my chest tightening with tears i’m not sure i’ll shed. my throat hurts, a lump is trying to escape from it.

it feels like my body tensing up in wait. i still don’t know what i’m waiting for.

it feels like a constant buzz of anxiety. like the kind i get when i don’t know if i’ve locked my front door, except there’s no home to go to at the end of the day to check.

it feels like the desert. hot. dry. my eyes sting like when sand gets in them.

it feels like confusion. like in the cartoons i used to watch, with a question mark flitting around my head. i can’t even express what i’m confused about, half the time.

it feels like the burst of sadness when i realize that the language my mother spoke to me as a child isn’t a made-up language after all. it’s the language of my people. it’s a language we all used to speak.

it feels like the frustration when my siblings and friends and i share pieces of our histories with each other, trying to make pieces of different puzzles fit together as one. none of us were born complete.

it feels like i am constantly justifying why i am, where i am, who i am, what i am. to the point where i question my own truth.

it feels like it will never get better. i will never know anything.

it feels like i will feel this way forever.

most of us always have, anyway.

anonymous submission

“diaspora poem?” [anonymous submission]

some nights when i’m alone, my thoughts run strange:

that my heart is a homeland,

pumping culture and language and identity

through rivers, over mountains.

nearer to my heart are the organs that are strong:

my lungs are my ancestors, receiving the most blood,

next my digestive system is my parents—

not as rich, yet not as poor as me—

because i am housed within my hands and feet.

i am choked by the circulation problems i’ve had since i was born,

and my hands and feet are cold and weak

like my sense of identity

like my connection with eretz yisrael

like my understanding of those other jews.

at which point can the dysfunctional body flourish,

when the heart is a homeland that cannot reach over distances,

when there are far more important places

for that blood to reach?

i want to reach out in the dark for answers,

but my feeble hands clutch at nothing

nothing but the drowning call of diaspora.

what the world has stolen from us

i honestly don’t know if i will get over the fact that i know nothing, and most likely will never know anything, about my history past the last 3 generations.

where did they live? where did they come from? who were they? what did they do? what were their names? how many of them were there?

i will never be able to answer any of those questions

u murdered my history and u expect me to be complacent when u further try to degrade me and force me to give up the only thing i have left of my ancestry?

ahavat hayam

i love the sea, and the sea loves me.

i love the desert, but it doesn’t love me back.

i am afraid of open water…

maybe that’s my punishment for deserting the desert.

the thing with an open space like the sea and the desert

is that it can swallow you

it can consume you

it can confuse you.

home?

bayit?

beis?

where is that?