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Image by Kunj Parekh

I sometimes think of my identity in diaspora

as a mother whose babies were ripped
from the womb, weeks too early to function
on their own. I think about my first language trying
to find comfort in my tongue but the words
seem lost and misplaced. Maybe I too was
plucked too early. And instead of these coming-of-age
stories, i write about the searching of identities
and feeling like a stranger in a home with
strange names. I want to envelop myself in a blanket
of my culture, but heritage isn’t something you
can take on and off and fold and tuck away neatly.
But how do you tell yourself, your children and your heart
longing for the ocean, that no matter where you stand,
home isn’t where your heart lies or where your feet currently
plant themselves? The home you long for had sand for its
foundation and every memory that comes to mind was
built like sandcastles; beautiful, unsteady, and resets each passing
year. Your home is the lie you long for.
And your identity was formed in an emergency.

Leila Tualla is a Filipino-American poet and author based in Houston, Texas. Leila’s books include a YA contemporary romance called Letters to Lenora and a memoir/poetry collection called Storm of Hope: God, Preeclampsia, Depression and me. Her poetry is featured in several mental health anthologies and she is currently working on a poetry collection based on Asian American stereotypes and identifies. Her chapbook pmdd & me will be out Spring 2022.


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