The Self-aware Shrub

I couldn’t say I’m quite American
but Soy Cubana burps out of me like pre-programmed
Tía bent my hands around
empanada dough
abuela, my fingers around the spoon
to stir frijoles
and mami, my neck over
the pan of picadillo.
Like a garden tree shaped by wires,
I was not allowed to be more
than their plan for me.
The product of brave immigrants.
The vessel for grandchildren of brave immigrants.
I’m grateful for the planting,
but who is I at all?

How many times will you say that you
left it all behind
until I’m convinced you didn’t?


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