Sunday, January 1, 2012

Poem I wrote for Nathan's Memorial

I am Nathan

I come from the sound of the water buffalo,
Returning after a day in the rice fields,
The flowers picked by young girls woven into my mane.

I come from a village well where mothers
Bathed their children at dusk;
Pouring water from bowls of red clay
Over bodies golden brown from a
Long day spent playing in the sun.

I come from ancestors in Cambodia,
A long lineage of artists and farmers;
Fisherman and engineers
Who built the Kingdom of Angkor.
Temples reaching up to God; reflections of
The Buddha’s Compassionate Way.

I am Nathan

I come from grandparents lost to wars
Fought in villages and along the rivers of
Cambodia. I come from Phal Pot and the
Wound he left in my parent’s heart., as they
Fled as refugees to the home I knew as America.

I come from Khea and Tara who became Samantha
And Tim on the day they became citizens
Of the country that adopted them and took them in.

I am Nathan

Born on the last day of 1995 into the hands
Of my midwife’the only grandmother I ever
Knew. My placenta planted beneath the trees
Of childhood play and Easter egg hunts in the
Forest I called Grandma’s house; a place
Of endless dinners, chickens hatching and
Garden snakes sleeping in the sun.

I am Nathan

Brother of John and David.
In the middle. Struggling for
Knees and arms and a way to
Be me in the midst of them.
Basketball and bikes, trips to
The river. Nachos and movies
Warm, familiar, the open and
Close of a welcoming door. A
Soft bed and new shoes and
A home on Willowgrove Street

I come from divorce and the sound of
My parents fighting. I come from
Changing houses and changing rooms
And step parents who opened their arms
To love me even when I turned away.

I come from the rivers and ponds
Of Oregon, from turtles and frogs
And tadpoles in a jar. I come from
Fishing and muddy shoes and
A love of animals that lepta from
My heart and rested in the dog
We know as Treasure.

I am Nathan,

Inventor and artist
Curious, strong and
Tender hearted.

I come from cousins whose
Parents like mine came from
Afar to make a family. Cambodia,
Vietnam, Ecuador, Mexico and the
Philippines. Waiting on my
Birthday while we sing in every
Language. Clapping and laughing.
Egg rolls and turkey on Thanksgiving.
Young and old in Christmas
Photos where I move from the arm
Of my mother to a place of my own.

I am Nathan

I come from
Quiet dreams and closed doors,
Of laptops and computer games
Walls and codes and armor
To keep you from knowing
Me, finding me, loving me.

I am Nathan

I come from wanting peace,
Good grades in school and a
Buddha’s heart. I come from
Too shy, too fragile. I come
From a big body
That never matched the tender places
It held tenderly within its soul.

I am Nathan.

Lying in the snow
Looking up at a bright blue
Oregon morning; the last
cloud drifting across the sky

I am Nathan

Look for me still
In the loving touch
Of my mother’s hand,
In the bark of my dog,
When the fish are biting
And soft white clouds
Drift across
A clear Oregon sky.

I am Nathan
And I love you

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