Escape from the Old Country

By Adrienne Su b. 1967 Adrienne Su
I never had to make one,
no sickening weeks by ocean,
 
no waiting for the aerogrammes
that gradually ceased to come.
 
Spent the babysitting money
on novels, shoes, and movies,
 
yet the neighborhood stayed empty.
It had nothing to do with a journey
 
not undertaken, not with dialect,
nor with a land that waited
 
to be rediscovered, then rejected.
As acid rain collected
 
above the suburban hills, I tried
to imagine being nothing, tried
 
to be able to claim, “I have
no culture,” and be believed.
 
Yet the land occupies the person
even as the semblance of freedom
 
invites a kind of recklessness.
Tradition, unobserved, unasked,
 
hangs on tight; ancestors roam
into reverie, interfering at the most
 
awkward moments, first flirtations,
in doorways and dressing rooms—
 
But of course. Here in America,
no one escapes. In the end, each traveler
 
returns to the town where, everyone
knew, she hadn’t even been born.

Adrienne Su, "Escape from the Old Country" from Sanctuary. Copyright © 2006 by Adrienne Su.  Reprinted by permission of Manic D Press.

Source: Sanctuary (Manic D Press, 2006)

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Poet Adrienne Su b. 1967

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Coming of Age, Relationships, Home Life, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, Life Choices

Biography

Raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Su earned a BA from Radcliffe College of Harvard University and an MFA from the University of Virginia. She is the author of the poetry collections Middle Kingdom (1997), Sanctuary (2006), and Having None of It (2009). Her awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and residencies at the Fine Arts Works Center and The Frost Place.
 
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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Relationships, Home Life, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, Life Choices

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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