for Uyghuristan

by Nuha Shaikh

If we are all family
and this is my home
as much as it is yours
and you are meant to protect us all
then why am I not allowed to speak to my God
and why am I not allowed to see my children
and why am I not allowed to leave this cage of a district

why are there eyes on every door and more
why is there no good reason but suspicion
to trap me in an agreement
where I could not choose anything but
nod mutely
cry politely

my language is not allowed
lists and lists of crossed off characters
are enough to remind me of the hidden history
no one tells
you that it’s lonesome being surrounded by people
outsiders with power
they claimed to be just like you

there is a good reason, isn’t there?
there is a reason, isn’t there?

why can I not love my country and love my state
why can I not believe in the leadership and in a God
why can I not speak the common tongue and my home’s

heirlooms and heirlooms of memories are passed on through our living
killing us imprisoning us
we’re a disappearing “us”
you’ve wrenched from our minds the hope of freedom
wrung out the tapestry of this country
attempting to clean yourselves of our blood and tears and breath

is it enough to be a ghost-town?
is it enough to be?

terrorism is a pretense from a vestige of old power
no longer a threat when we are fighting to stay alive
maybe even safe
one day
oppression is enough
to make us into dogs
that heel when told to
that stay where commanded to
that lie dead when played with
and aren’t family in any sense

maybe when past becomes present and
history becomes current
an old silk road of discovery and connection
will lead to continued secrecy
letting white people in and out for money
but never us for free

I can cry as much as I want but there is no use
they tell me
in mourning the loss of family I have never known
“they are guilty”

I thought I had found home
in a place of mixed stories and livelihoods
where I could pass for any other person on the street

but I have not spoken with the ground long enough
to even call it by its first name
I have not sung to the sky long enough
to even know the colors that it wears

but I do know that
there was where
I thought home was and

not knowing better
I laid my roots down
still fresh and tender
without looking around
to meet the buried eyes of
done wrong by their home