This border is rotten meat, a hallucination, a wavering line insh'allah, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Bodymap written Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha was a small collection of poems I read early in the year when I was going through an intense bout of body pain and sitting in clinics. For me, it did that thing where the room disappeared and I wanted to savor each piece, afraid the next poem would be the last.
Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled femme poet of color wrote Bodymap in 2015. A few collections she has written include Consensual Genocide (2006), Love Cake (2011) and Dirty River: A queer Femme of Color Dreaming her Way Home (2015). In this collection she writes on disability and chronic illness from a queer and femme person of color lens. A few subjects that she covers are home/borders, queer desire, disability and chronic illness, working class struggles, police brutality, survivorhood and transformative love.
yes you came back, yes the border will open, you will live in all the places your heart lives, you will come homediaspora, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Poetry, poetry that makes the world disappear as you read it, remind us that even among stories of poverty and war, there are good people searching for hope and finding love. The people that you meet in uncertain and fucked up times, for those that can’t return home, can’t touch their homeland, tentatively tongue the word “diaspora,” these poems are for you.
aTo be in diaspora, maybe
You are always a ghost
Always missing something.
diaspora, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
We witness her life and heart as she tells us stories of meetings and organizing protests, of fighting against police brutality and the murder of Black and people of color against the backdrop of freedom and humanity. We are asked to witness acts of dehumanization against bodies of color where hopelessness and despair do not overwhelm but transform into love.
This collection of poetry can read like a manual for some, and it did for me. As a poet, it also gave me permission to write on things I’ve always felt I couldn’t address in poetry-chronic illness, breakups with partners who don’t understand what love is resistance means, broken/crip bodies, not being consumed with anger after being loved, “though at times every cell in my pissed-off/broke brown girl body wants to.”*
*From Love is Resistance in Bodymap.