- Migratory Glossitis
(for ibrahim baba)
i have been asked for my papers, more than once, to proveancestry. but i was denied, i only have word of stories & tracesof relations--letters. my entry into adulthood spawned a rejectionof indigenousness. it had to do with not feeling “enough”but that is another story, longer than this poem.
Joseph, my friend, who i loved, when i said,we don’t come from the same tribebut we share something unspoken, he was silent--named after the father of Christ, who was not a white man,but painted so, a picket fence revision, he too carrieda mixed complex. my mother & grandfather, told too paleto be Indian, yet still claiming, till the end.handing that claim to me. enough.
i woke one morning to another new symptom, my tongueblazed with territories. diagnosed as geographic tongueor mapped tongue, a condition where my tongue formedridges, its borders appeared & disappeared, a living history. [End Page 118]
second by second it morphed into new countries, linesdisplaced & recreated. they dissolved into my spit beforebeing reborn. i remember the doctor, how she shinedher light inside my mouth & said, “you mean to tell me,your tongue is always changing , it never stays the same?”and she gazed upon me as if realizing for the first timethat nothing is truly stagnant.
to her my teeth rose like unearthed temples& all of this between the clenching of my jaw.it’s a mystery. the underground root canalof suffering, how there seems to be not one cureto the crisis of identity. when the tears trailed downi tasted the saline of my wounding, a forced passagethat i (re) named the ocean, to ease the burden ofbeing called extinct, while still remaining here. [End Page 119]
Amir Rabiyah is a mixed race, queer and two-spirit writer currently living in San Diego, California. Their work has been published in Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, Kweli Journal, Sukoon and more. Amir loves cooking, jazz, books and cephalopods. www.amirrabiyah.com