a poem by Eileen Sadati
For most of my life I’ve been hiding by shields
Hiding by the dream-like word of: American.
It shines like a glittering beacon off the shore
So sure, I stood by it, weary in its warmth.
It starts with my kin and the gold on their faces,
how they faded themselves into fated addresses
Year after year until they were dull.
Accents and languages started to pale
We dropped extra letters and mailed ourselves off.
Names like “Sadati” can cram between lines
But “Sadati-Sohi” gets stuck on the tongue.
Its better forgotten, like dust on Persian rugs,
Than out in the light,
where it doesn’t even fit in the flow of this poem…
Hair, skin, the words on your tongue.
This is America so lessen the load.
You know how hard it is for them to keep loud,
brown women in the palm of their hands.
So scrub yourself down,
Your goals, your face, your mind.
Wash yourself away until you’re transparent.
And maybe, if you’re lucky, you can just be “exotic”.
From the sun, from your history, from the idea of alienation
Iranian American became “ethnically ambiguous”
And enough buying, learning, and acting
Can finally push down our differences.
We mask who we are and put on a show.,
We live in a lie and pride in our pretend.
A circus that we think is a theater
The white man’s jesters think that they’re kings.
I poured bleach into my second-grade lunchbox,
trying to cover the truth and trying to turn my insides white
I stared in the mirror waiting for a pair of blue eyes to start staring back.
I wanted to see oceans with beacons on their shores.
But instead I saw darkness
And instead of fading into whiteness,
I landed on the beach.
The sand of my kin is replaced by the crashing waves of California.
White water washes over me,
Eroding a bit of a past life with every change in tide.
A cruel, petty sun hangs over me from the horizon
I wonder if these same rays had brought my parents to America
And I wonder if that beacon was really just a mirror?
And if all of us keep changing because we never liked what we saw in the reflection?
This is my experience as a Middle Eastern person in the United States. I have searched to find labels, communities, and identities that best matched my own experience. As I've learned more about my people, I've observed their strengths, flaws, and the unique ways we interact with those around us. American Reflections is a collection of my thoughts.
Hi! I am a 15 year old sophomore from Southern California and am passionate about history, writing, politics, and social issues. I love learning and gaining perspective from other people's lives. I use poetry to answer the questions I have struggled with thought my life. I hope you enjoy and you can find me @eileensadati on instagram.