my mother tells me how
her homeland was once
taken over by those who
felt they
were entitled to it
simply because she
wasn’t pretty enough
to call it her own

i can’t tell if it’s my
memory or hers
when i see the
stare of a soldier
holding his gun as
if its bullets
belonged in my body
as much as i
was supposed to belong
on this soil

she tells me we are
blessed to have two homes
on both ends of the world
and i tell her it is a curse
to not belong to
either of them

my mother tells me how
disappointed she was in me
when i had my land
taken over by
a man who felt
he was entitled to it
simply because i was too
pretty to not share it

he left his marks on me
the way bombs
left their marks on
my mother’s hometown
when she was learning
how to be a little girl
in the comfort of her
own bomb shelter

she tells me how
she was taught to
avoid the men marching
around with big guns
and uniforms because
they always
have a finger on
the trigger

i tell her it is
hard to avoid them
when nowadays
conceals their weapons

my mother tells me
the biggest regret
she ever had
was to let her country
get taken over by
those who can’t
its beauty

she doesn’t
realize it
hurts the same
even as they
whisper “you’re
so beautiful”
when they are
your body