First Place – 2021 Beverly Hopkins Contest for High School Students

Partition as Narrated by an American Daughter

Ladue Horton Watkins High School

/ it all ends here / trains are passing each other
filling with bodies / uncut flesh / mouths / rotting palm and
riot police / every other brown writer
writes pakistan – india, writes mango groves burning mangomouths
filling with blood somewhere in Kashmir
a mother is screaming / writes BORDERS / writes partition /
their pen rips paper / it splits somewhere around the northwestern end
/ 1947 lives in their blood / like America lives in / mine /
i cannot claim my grandparents’ suffering when my tongue
no longer bleeds the same color / no longer shapes the same sounds
/ no longer knows how to speak to them
/ long distance / longer time since i love you /

/ how do you claim your history when you can’t claim your present / how
do I tell this story when I know it is not mine to tell / when I could not speak
it in my mother tongue if I tried / partition to me is something I didn’t
learn about / in the history books / partition to me / is the folded up
Polaroid of my grandmother / unbent and / beautiful in a lush green
valley / unshot and unanointed with blood /

/ the ugly truth / is that I am a twofold product of
colonialism and bad timing / difference is / my motherland / clawed /
and screamed herself / free / of her chains /
my mother’s mother bled for this motherland / the irony /
of breaking chains so a daughter could be born
on a new stolen land that creates them. /