Nice to Meet You, Mariam

Sunday, February 21, 2021 - 7:24pm


Courtesy of Janice Lin

I’ve lived 19 years of my life trying to understand my place in this world, but the world has not yet understood me, and part of the reason lies in the fact that I have not yet understood myself. One day I will confidently have an answer to “Where are you from?” like I have an answer to “What’s your name?”. Something that I share with other people, but is entirely unique to me.

I’d like to go back in time.


“Nice to meet you, Mariam, where are you from?”

“I’m from red waters and arid lands fighting to prevail

From sand carried by the East Wind and underneath my nails

From sweets dripping honey down to my elbow

From 4 seasons, 3 seasons, 2 seas, 1 sea”


“I’m from plastic bags that cost 25 cents apiece

From times of war in my homeland,

While living abroad in serenity, and peace

From suitcases and the smell of sanitized tiles

From lists on post-its reminding me how to live, how to breathe”


“I’m from abrupt ends and confusing beginnings

From uncertain losses and temporary wins

From familiar pictures and unfamiliar faces

From cameras spreading out memories too thin”


“I’m from everywhere and nowhere

From a hot balcony under a sun and hot tiles in front of a fireplace

From learning how to swim while still drowning in lisps, slips and stutters

In a sea of languages coming together as one”


“I’m from gatherings bringing together old love and pain

From jet lag, blankets and meals on an airplane

From locked front doors with open hearts

From unlocked doors not there from the start”


“I’m from clay shaped by the callous hands of time and place

From the sun originally, adopted by the moon

I am, now, all new beginnings"

-Inspired by George Ella Lyon’s poem Where I’m From 


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