In support of “Because We Come From Everything: Poetry & Migration,” the first formalized programming of the Poetry Coalition, Birds, LLC; Coffee House Press; Graywolf Press; and Milkweed Editions have partnered to curate a selection of poems on the theme of migration. Each featured poem will be released on Milkweed’s website and shared by all participating organizations on social media. A new poem will be distributed each Thursday in March and April, concluding on National Poetry Month’s Poem in Your Pocket Day, April 27. The poems will be made available in pocket-poem size and distributed at several Minneapolis and St. Paul independent bookstores, including:
#2: Mai Der Vang
Spirit, when I flee this jungle, you must too.
I will take our silver bars, necklace dowry, and the kettle
forged from metal scraps just after the last monsoon.
Among the foliage, we must be ready to see
the half-decayed. You must not run off no matter how much
flesh you smell.
Nor should you wander to chase an old mate.
Spirit, we are in this with each other the way the night geese
in migration need the stars.
When I make the crossing, you must not be taken no matter what
the current gives. When we reach the camp,
there will be thousands like us.
If I make it onto the plane, you must follow me to the roads
and waiting pastures of America.
We will not ride the water today on the shoulders of buffalo
as we used to many years ago, nor will we forage
for the sweetest mangoes.
I am refugee. You are too. Cry, but do not weep.
We walk out the door.
Mai Der Vang is the author of Afterland (Graywolf Press, 2017)
Join the conversation and share your favorite poems about migration in the comments below and on social media by using #WeComeFromEverything.