Separated from herbs and rice,

by knife and rifle, a fish in a fracture

of Caspian and Pacific. I remember

nothing of departure or arrival,

nothing of language lost or found,

nothing but this place of both

and neither, a wound of salt surrounding

as threats trill across desert and sea,

an orchestra of terror looming,

leaving me an orphan, flagless.

My name torn in half and sutured, yet

when someone asks how to pronounce it

the accents all scatter and hide,

because there is no right answer in a war

between the one that made me

and the one that raised me,

the one that shamed me

and the one that shames me,

between the chador

and the razor blade,

yasmin and jasmine,

tea and coffee.

There is only a dash,

a gash,

and I lay there,



Niku Rice

Niku Rice was born in Tehran, raised in California, and now lives in the suburbs of Detroit with her husband and three children. She is a doula and childbirth educator

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