Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 1



Lekey Leidecker


pilgrimage

my family
gets sick when we travel
especially the women.
generations upchuck
the whole way to the hill station.

nausea distills
a moment's essence. Stomach contents
steady or rebel,
revealing secrets
our bodies
can no longer keep.

When Momo la came to America
she lay sick for four days. I touch
my head to the altar, exit quietly. Popo la

[i don’t have the strength
to lose two homes
in a lifetime.]

laughs but explains
how much she cried.
Gaining grandparents, I could not fathom the body
mourning
what they'd left behind.




Quakers

In a long history of using
brown people at convenience
I recite Tibetan phrases
foreign to my English-
immersed tongue as theirs,
At the local Quaker meeting.

My grandparents arrive from a refugee village in India,
Work as factory janitors
split one job into two
to be together.

The same town affords different histories.

Do not invite us as equals. Remember:
Only one family
endures
the caprice of
mysterious forces who grant visas




Refuge

If you can’t leave bed
each morning
who will get milk
for the tea?

Anyway, it makes no sense
to stay inside all day
if your home is the verdant grassland.

Grandmothers
rise daily
with prayer and breakfast.

Loss too
is an inherited thing.

Drag your ancestors to the protest.
Hang them, heavy
around your neck
like precious stones.

Teach us early that life is suffering. Still I believe
the Chinese
brought something worse.

Teach me early about impermanence.
I have seen so many fucking mandalas
Still I know
We were made for home.


Lekey Leidecker: "I live and write in New York City. I have published about Tibetan identity and life at Turning Wheel Media, a project of Buddhist Peace Fellowship. I work as a youth educator in various high schools and can most often be found carrying groceries between Jackson Heights and Brooklyn."




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