"Genesis" by Angie Sharma ('19)

"You know, I've never asked you

where you're from."

Without a second thought,

I say,

"I am from Brooklyn."

 

A pause—

 

it begs me to say "but,"

and it demands

extenuating circumstances.

(How dare I claim New York?)

It makes me feel

uncomfortable, but

I do not yield.

I let that pause

bounce off me,

and my unconcerned expression

now demands that you continue

this unfortunately started conversation.

 

" ... Oh. I thought ...

You just don't look

like you are

from New York."

Your awkward mumbling,

the way you search for

the next word,

next phrase,

next sentence,

something you think is not

(and I hope is less)

offensive—

that little inhale,

that little hiccup, and

I understand that I'm

embarrassed

by your embarrassment.

 

Now I start to doubt my answer.

 

To hell with it—

I turn off my mind and

mechanically, monotonously,

sigh the well-rehearsed,

well-practiced explanation:

"i moved here last year my mom's ukrainian my dad is from nepal"

 

There, there.

The incongruence

between what your eyes see and

the image of a person

from New York

that your brain has caused to be

is, thank god, resolved.

(A relieved

"Oh, so that's what it is"

signals that we've avoided

a potentially paralyzing impasse.)

 

But wait—

let us go back:

Where am I from?

I'm from the same stardust,

the same primordial Word

that was with God—

the thought,

the energy,

the concentrated nothing

that turned into

the barely meaningful

and the most important

everything

that now surrounds us—

I'm of the same intention,

the same slight glitch,

the hurtling mass of matter

that landed a little off,

but with a cause

and what a cause—

every little bit of

knowledge accepted

by my conscious mind,

every little bit of

knowing carved

into my subconscious—

I am our ancestry

from the beginning

of beginning—

I am our progeny

until the end of time—

the feelings—

debilitating madness,

and debilitating clarity,

and incapacitating grief,

and pure, pure joy,

and the make-belief,

and the reality—

everything that makes you you—

you probably have never realized

that it makes New York, and

it makes me, too.